Hotel Transylvania 2: Drac becomes a “vampa”!
Kicking off the Halloween season for kids is Hotel Transylvania 2. The legendary monsters living at the hotel return in this sequel, in which Dracula’s vampire daughter Mavis (the voice of Selena Gomez) and her surfer dude human boyfriend Johnny (Andy Samberg) tie the knot and have a baby. Voiced by Adam Sandler, Dracula (Drac) in the first installment of Hotel Transylvania struggled with being an overprotective single parent to Mavis: he constantly attempted to shield her from a world ruled by humans who once terrorized the monsters.
This time around, Drac in his new role as a “vampa” (get it–“vampire grandpa”?), becomes obsessed with whether the “thousands-of-years-old” vampire genes will be passed on to his grandson Dennis…or whether the little tyke will be human. Drac tells Mavis he doesn’t care if the baby is “human, monster, or unicorn.”
However, Drac’s desperately hoping that the kid will grow fangs by the age of five, especially because Mavis and Johnny travel to California to explore moving there so that (presumed) human little Dennis can enjoy a “normal” upbringing. Meanwhile, Drac’s mission becomes helping his grandson find his “inner monster,” and far from being protective, puts the kid in some pretty harrowing situations to scare him into finding his vampire identity.
Hotel Transylvania 2 is rated PG but family friendly
I personally enjoyed the movie’s gentle caricature of today’s overprotective/helicopter parenting style. When Drac and the gang take Dennis to vampire summer camp for some real monster training, Drac is dismayed to discover that the activities he once savored as a kid have been rendered meaningless with countless safety precautions. Drac refers to these as “child endangerment.”
Young kids love spooky, but they don’t want to be too terrified, and Hotel Transylvania 2 offers them the chance to see the legendary monsters in a storyline that’s funny rather than scary. The likes of the Invisible Man (the voice of David Spade), Frankenstein’s monster (the voice of Kevin James), and the werewolf (the voice of Steve Buscemi) have made their peace with humans and even welcome them to the hotel.
In fact, the monsters are shadows of their former selves because they have no need to kill or frighten anymore, and the filmmakers parlay this into some of the film’s funniest moments. Example: Frankenstein’s monster attempts to scare two girl joggers, and they end up taking selfies together (and flirting).
Things for parents to consider about Hotel Transylvania 2
The movie gets off to a slow start with the setup of Johnny and Mavis’ marriage and baby news, and the ending is a bit disappointing because it’s too predictable. The movie’s villain is Bela, the evil bat consort of Vlad (Drac’s father, in a wonderful voice cameo by Mel Brooks), but Bela’s introduced too late to be woven effectively into the storyline as a real threat. Nevertheless, Bela serves his purpose as the necessary foil for revealing whether Dennis is monster or human.
If you are looking for a safe bet to enjoy with your kids at the movies for Halloween, Hotel Transylvania 2 is overall a fun movie with some clever moments that will leave your kids laughing out loud.
Reel Mama recommendation: Ages 5 and up. The film’s most intense moment at the climax, with a fight between the legendary monsters and Vlad’s bat minions, might be too scary for under 5. There is also a frightening scene in which Vlad manipulates a man dressed in a monster costume reminiscent of Elmo at Dennis’ birthday party (scary for kids, funny for parents).