LOS ANGELES-You know, the one thing about grandparents is that they know how to love on them some grandchildren. They can love on their grandchildren so much that they sometimes bypass their own children’s opinion about what is best for their child just so they can satisfy their own family agenda.
Grandparents, who are a lot softer after years of dueling with ceiling-high expectations of their own children, all of a sudden become experts at dishing out parental advice. They believe they know what is best for their grandchild or grandchildren. The parents, mind you, then become immediate pawns in the “Granddaddy knows best” versus “Mommy and Daddy knows best” chest war.
Anyone with children or nephews and nieces, can quickly identify this scenario playing out in the very funny animation Hotel Transylvania 2. They’ve been there and done that. And this is why this Hotel Transylvania 2, the Sony Pictures sequel, works so well with all ages. It relates to all of us.
The film basically takes a cast of the baddest monsters on the planet (Invisible Man, Frankenstein, Wayne Werewolf and Murray the Mummy) and turn them into comical lapdog friends who suck up to the grandparent (in this case, Dracula, voiced by Adam Sandler) that thinks he has the best feel on what his grandson’s life calling is supposed to be, and that is to be a vampire.
The problem for the sometimes irritable and sometimes irrepressible Dracula is that his grandson is half-human, a lovechild that resulted from his daughter’s union to Jonathan (Andy Samberg). Very much in the same vein that some people feel about interracial dating, Dracula has a serious issue with keeping up with the times as monsters and humans mingling among each other is a long-held taboo. It is not the way it is supposed to be.
That was old-school thinking. Mavis (Selena Gomez) throws a wrench in that old-way of thought and marries Jonathan. Jonathan and Mavis get Dracula to open up his heart a bit to include more humans as guests and not victims for his appetite at Hotel Transylvania. Dennis, Dracula’s grandson, is going to be the antidote to all of this nonsensical monster-human interactivity. But for some reason, Dennis is delayed in unleashing his vampire fangs, causing Dracula to go AWOL.
This is where the real fun starts. Dracula represents that one side of the family that is always insisting that their linage or their side is not represented enough through what the their grandchild or grandchildren does or do not do. If you have grandchildren or have grandparents, you know all about how all of this stuff plays out. Usually, it comes with a lot of drama.
Dracula is the biggest supplier of drama in Hotel Transylvania 2, plotting with Jonathan to send Mavis out of town to see her in-laws (Kevin James, Fran Drescher), while he goes to work into scaring Dennis into vampirehood. To do that, Dracula comes up with a concocted plot to frighten the living daylights out of Dennis with the help of his scare buddies.
Sounds familiar? It should. That script sound very much like something parents have gone through before with their own mother and father. It’s called the meddling grandparents syndrome. So off goes Mavis and Jonathan, who is working in sync with Dracula, while the vampire tries to use the time they are away to convince his grandchild he is indeed a beloved offspring of his Papa.
Instead of a coronation, this becomes a barrel of laughs as we discover that Dracula pals are not what they used to be. Wayne Werewolf ((Steve Buscemi)) has become nothing more than a ball-retrieving, frisbee-hawking relic of himself and wouldn’t scare Little Red Riding Hood if she came along walking in the woods. Frankenstein is more into bodyguard duties than scaring anyone. The Invisible Man has fallen for his opposite like a love-struck teenager, and Murray the Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key) has become as ineffective as paper wrapper.
Of course, all of this frustrates Dracula to no end. He now has to take matters into his own hand by taking Dennis to Vampire School. When that plot blows up in his face, Dracula now faces the task of getting Dennis back home before Mavis and Jonathan, who are deciding if they should leave the monster existence for a humane society for their son, arrives. Too late.
Remember when your grandparents had you doing something against the wishes of your parents after they had dropped you off for the afternoon or for the weekend and your mom and dad came back a little bit earlier than expected? Remember how that scenario played out between parents and grandparents both using choice words to try to settle the score of their self-righteousness while you were caught up in the middle of that mess?
Dracula certainly feels the wrath of that moment as Mavis declares she and her family were leaving the monster getaway in favor of a normal surrounding in California. But first, one last last splash for the departing party. And one major gatecrasher. Well, not so much. Dracula’s own father, Vlad, an old-school vampire who preys on humans, has been invited to attend the party.
From there, comes a whole bang of laughs and funny moments as the monster crew tries keep Vlad (voiced by comedic legend Mel Brooks) from knowing there are humans at the party. The final scene is almost predictable but still pretty funny. As a whole, Hotel Transylvania 2 is a much-needed warm and laughing antidote to the negative ills that sometimes consume our day. At the very least, it gives a hysterical look at our interaction with monsters.