“Hotel Transylvania 2” is a lame animated movie that takes some of the most well-known characters in horror and makes them kid-friendly (which I can accept) and unfunny (which I can’t). The main characters are vampires and there’s a lot of talk of fangs in this movie. I was ready to make the easy joke about how this movie is “toothless,” but then I was reminded that Toothless was the name of the dragon in the superior “How to Train Your Dragon” movies and I didn’t want to pay the movie an unintentional compliment by calling it a “Toothless Movie.” But I’m still perfectly happy calling it “lame” and “unfunny” and one of my favorites, “Cinematic Junk Food.”
At the end of the first “Hotel Transylvania,” Dracula (Adam Sandler) had decided that humans weren’t so bad after his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) had fallen in love with one named Jonathan (Andy Samberg). The new movie sees the young couple getting married and having a baby named Dennis. There’s some confusion over whether Dennis technically counts as a “human” or “vampire,” and although Dracula insists that he loves him no matter what, he secretly hopes he’s a vampire. Dennis will officially be a vampire if he gets fangs before the end of his fifth birthday, so Dracula exposes him to all sorts of vampire stimuli in hopes that it will trigger the fangs.
Dracula enlists his friends Frankenstein (Kevin James), Wayne the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade), and Murray the Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key, replacing Cee-Lo Green from the original) and they take little Dennis on some monster adventures that they screw up by not remembering how to act like monsters themselves. Here’s the one joke assigned to each character: Frankenstein is fat, Wayne is basically a dog, Griffin’s girlfriend is made-up, and Murray has a bad back. It’s these four jokes, over and over again. Oh, and there’s also sixth member of the team: Blobby, a green blob that wiggles around and doesn’t talk. Somehow, he’s the most interesting. The whole thing ends at Dennis’s fifth birthday party where Great-Vampa Vlad (Mel Brooks) threatens to ruin everything by hating humans… just as much as Dracula did in the first movie, actually.
When the movie isn’t busy with dull visual gags, it’s telling jokes that I’d call “groaners,” except that it would imply that they elicit some kind of response. Honestly, is it that hard to find funny things to do with these characters? And the movie misses one opportunity after another. I’d like to see what the hotel is like now that it’s open to both humans and monsters. Alas, you wouldn’t even know there was a hotel in this movie if not for the title. I saw some potential laughs with Jonathan’s parents (Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman) who believe in some silly misconceptions about monsters (in fact, their false identification of a monster is one of the few gags I laughed at), but they’re mostly squandered. Perhaps worst of all is that the movie wastes the talents of comedy legend Mel Brooks. He gets one cheap laugh about a phony vampire hairdo and everything else he either plays way too straight or can’t save.
There’s just no need for a second “Hotel Transylvania” movie. There wasn’t exactly a need for a first one, but if the original wore its premise thin, this one wears it as invisible as Griffin. But is anyone really surprised in 2015 that a movie starring Adam Sandler and his buddies is a hacky mess? In fact, I have to say something about this movie that’s more insulting than calling it “lame,” “unfunny,” or even “Cinematic Junk Food.” These days, all I have to do to insult an Adam Sandler movie is call it “an Adam Sandler movie.”
One and a Half Stars out of Five.
“Hotel Transylvania 2” is rated PG for some scary images, action and rude humor. Its running time is 89 minutes.
Robert Garver is a graduate of the Cinema Studies program at New York University. He has been a published movie reviewer since 2006. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.