Let’s take a moment to consider the feckless career of Adam Sandler. Once upon a time an SNL star on the rise, he hit pay dirt with a series of successful Nineties comedies (Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer) before flirting with greatness (Punch-Drunk Love), and then self-reflection (Funny People), before finally settling into a nadir of horribly themed rom-coms (Just Go With It, Blended), excuses to party with his celebrity bros (Grown Ups 1 & 2), and downright fucking weirdness (The Cobbler). He tapped ex-SNL writer Robert Smigel to help craft 2012’s Hotel Transylvania, a family-friendly animated romp that performed quite well. And here we are, three years later, checking in to that establishment once again for an uninspired sequel that may entertain the wee ones for 90 minutes, but leaves their adult handlers out in the cold.
When we last left Dracula (Sandler) and his daughter Mavis (Gomez), she had fallen head-over-heels for Jonathan (Samberg), an anomalous human amidst the monsters that comprise the “Drac Pack”: Frankenstein (James), the Invisible Man (Spade), the Wolfman (Buscemi), and the Mummy (Key, taking over for CeeLo Green, who smartly bowed out of this entry). The film opens with Mavis and Jonathan’s wedding, and soon after, little baby Dennis appears, and Dracula couldn’t be happier. Except Dennis is slow to exhibit his vampiric tendencies, which makes Dracula worried that his monster genes have not taken, and he may just be a dull human. So while Jonathan takes Mavis to visit his parents (Offerman and Mullally, doing their respective things) in Santa Cruz, Calif., the Drac Pack seeks to teach toddler Dennis the benefits of being a monster.
While the theatre full of children I shared this screening with chortled and guffawed at the various antics, if you’re over 10 your mileage may vary, despite the movie’s 3-D embellishments. The film relies too heavily on silly puns for comedy, and doesn’t throw any (funny) bones toward the older audience. Channeling your inner child, you may find solace in Hotel Transylvania 2, but in the end it has no bite, doing continued disservice to the Universal monsters it scabs out, and adding another soiled feather to Sandler’s cap of mediocrity.
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