Hotel Transylvania 2 ****
Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky; written by Adam Sandler and Robert Smigler
Voices of Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Mel Brooks, Andy Samberg, Kevin James
Everything is going well at Hotel Transylvania: Mavis and Johnny are married and have a child, Dennis. Dennis’ grandfather, Dracula, adores his grandchild, although he begins to worry when at age five he still shows no signs of being a vampire. Fearing that the little one will never fit into a world of monsters, Mavis ponders moving to California, where Johnny’s family lives (even though the family and the father secretly plot for them to stay). While the newlyweds adventure to America, Dracula does everything he can to make Dennis’ inner vampire come to life…
Three years ago, the first Hotel Transylvania was released with unexpected success in the box office. The Hotel created a place where Dracula could protect monsters and strange—but otherwise harmless—beings from the terrible and dangerous world of humans who were responsible for the death of the vampire’s beloved wife and many anxieties for his teenage daughter. The film, in spite of its horror movie setting, is actually a celebration of the family, tolerance, and mutual acceptance between diverse beings (even though Johnny—a human—is so strange that he feels more at home with a werewolf and a vampire than with his peers).
This second episode follows the same line of reasoning as vampire grandfather Dracula watches concerned as his happy grandson laughs among the werewolves (the werewolf family, with 300 children, and a forever-pregnant wife is one of the funniest sub-plots of the film). The little one refuses to develop his fangs and—thanks to his overly apprehensive mother—deems his hero to be the cake monster—the star of a TV show that appears to be a satire of certain children’s educational products that are ultimately guilty of softening reality to the point of misrepresenting it.
It will take a confrontation with the former generation to solve a problem that is really a problem only for adults: Dracula wants a grandchild that is a bit more “monster-like” (to the point of throwing him down an immensely tall tower to force him to fly), Mavis simply wants normality and to avoid taking risks… If we see the conflict between Dracula and his daughter as a parallel between the clash of two educational models (the old style – which is rougher and more open to risks and accidents versus the softer, more politically correct, and affirmative new school of thought), then there is always someone more conservative than even the archetypical conservative character. Thus, conservative grandpa Dracula finds himself (along with the grandson’s adoptive human family) protecting his “different” grandson from his own father, Vlad, and a gang of uncivilized vampires that would gladly suck the blood out of any human.
After a slightly slow beginning (we see the story of Johnny and Mavis’ marriage, pregnancy, and Dennis’ early years), the film takes off when Dracula and his gang begin a clandestine journey to the places of their youth to stimulate the young nephew. It’s a shame that even those places are not like what they used to be (now there is a running track where the cursed forest used to be and potential victims are more interested in taking selfies than in screaming and escaping. The politically correct vampire scout camp drives poor Dracula up the wall…); even the gang itself has lost its wilder and aggressive side.
Ultimately, the moral of the story is always the mutual acceptance and respect towards everyone’s nature: whether Dennis is human or vampire, (terror and violence are not always what bring out his vampire personality; sometimes it takes just the opposite) the important thing is the love that his family showers him with, which will become the catalyst of a collective salvation.
This film is suitable for all audiences.
Laura Cotta Ramosino is a story editor for Rai Uno, the national Italian broadcaster, and contributes to several magazines and websites about cinema and television.