Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Hotel Translyvania 2 (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Hotel Transylvania 2

In the tradition of "Despicable Me," here is a sequel to "Hotel Transylvania,"written by "Saturday Night Live" animator Robert Smigel. The animated film also highlights  SNL comics, Adam Sandler, Adam Samberg, Dana Carvey, David Spade and Molly Shannon. The film is fun, affectionate, irreverent and best of all, is never miserly with its mayhem.

Seven years after the first film, Johnny (Samberg) and Mavis (Selena Gomez) have an adorable toddler Dennis (Asher Blinkoff) with flaming red hair. Mavis' father Dracula (Sandler) is quite concerned. The boy has no fangs and is obviously not a creature of the night.

The Dracula name must carry on to bite eternal.

Dracula concocts a scheme with Johnny to teach little Dennis the basics of undead living, including bat morphing and the power to scare.

Dennis likes the idea of flight but much prefers the monsters of the cake-eating variety. He thinks of Batman rather than Bela. Alas, the only tooth he's interested in growing is of the sweet variety.

The sight gags, especially at the start, are wonderfully playful. The core of the humor lies in the fact that all of these legendary monsters, from Frankenstein's creation to Wolfman, Mummy and Invisible Man, are far too tired by their immortality to effectively scare anyone.

A solid highlight is Mel Brooks as Vlad, a cranky great grandfather to Dennis who can't see the wonder in anything mortal.

The film also has ample time to poke fun at modern life (Dracula's fingers are too long to use an iPhone ) and existence in the suburbs (Johnny's parents hardly speak to each other and frequently criticize).

The trick is that everything is played rather straight. The jokes have sense of freedom and quirk, remaining fresh without loosing their edge. Kids and adults will giggle throughout here without any black fringe of meanness or controversy.

The only slight stumble is the film's showdown with fight scenes that seem to echo other hero epics from The Dark Knight to The Avengers with gargoyles replacing a horde of robots. After a few minutes of these tiny teeth-gnashers punching, flapping and kicking, the novelty flattens, in part, because one expects a comeuppance.

But right before we might wish for sunrise, the story shifts to these motley characters and feakish frivolity is resurrected.

Whimsy is in force with enough sight gags to make a wiccan blush. If you want a frightening foray into free association that will make you laugh like a loon, "Hotel Transylvania 2" is a colorful bag of treats in spite of some twice-told terrors.

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