A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hotel Transylvania 2 is the sequel to the popular (if not particularly critically successful) monster comedy Hotel Transylvania and once again features the voices of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, and Selena Gomez. Except for a few blink-and-you'll-miss-them "angry faces" from Dracula and a couple of other vampires (and the monsters' somewhat creepy appearance in general), the one genuinely scary part is when a group of demon bats fights the human-friendly monsters near the end of the movie. Language includes mild insults like "stupid" and "imbecile," and the romance is limited to a couple of kisses. Positive messages focus on family unity and diversity, and the characters are all trying hard to do well.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 is the follow-up to the 2012 monster comedy about Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez), a young vampire woman who falls in love with Jonathan (Andy Samberg), a human guy. In the sequel, Mavis and Jonathan get married and eventually have a cute little son, Dennis. Still living at the hotel, the new family doesn't know whether baby Dennis is a vampire or not because of his blended heritage; his fangs must grow by the time he's 5 if he's going to follow in Mom and Grandpa's bat-steps. So the story fast-forwards to the weeks leading up to Dennis' 5th birthday, when grandpa Drac (Adam Sandler) tries to help his beloved grandson produce his vampire fangs ... or else Dennis and his parents will move away.
Is it any good?
Although it has some clearly positive messages about family unity and diversity, this isn't the sort of animated comedy you'll return to again and again. It will surely amuse kids -- especially those who enjoyed the original -- but it's not likely to make a lasting impression on parents. Still, everyone will laugh when Drac and his crew of monster pals try to school young Dennis in the ways of monsterdom. And there's a fun bit of stunt casting: Mel Brooks as Vlad, Drac's prejudiced vampire father, who isn't tolerant of humans but has been invited to Dennis' birthday party.
Sandler, who co-wrote the script, fills it with kid-targeted humor, and the cast is pleasant enough, but some of the jokes fall flat or linger a beat too long before the punchline. There's also the strange case of slacker Jonathan still seeming like a teen when, by all accounts, he's about 27 for the bulk of this installment. Parents will appreciate the way the story pokes fun at the hypervigilant ways of today's parenting styles. It's best depicted when Drac takes Dennis to his old vampire camp, which is now so tame that the counselors spot, coddle, and sing with the young vampires. While Hotel Transylvania 2 isn't a great movie, it's a fine family pick for the Halloween season.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Hotel Transylvania 2's themes of identity and tolerance. What part(s) of young Dennis' story can be applied to all sorts of real-life families?
Many of the characters are monsters that have been featured in horror movies, but they're not as scary here. Why? What makes them kid riendly?
How does the sequel compare to the original? Do you think there should be a third film?
- In theaters: September 25, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: January 12, 2016
- Cast: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi
- Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
- Studio: Sony Pictures Releasing
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some scary images, action and rude humor
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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