Hello and Hallo-welcome to another edition of Laugh-it-off Monday, where we laugh in the face of danger, ha ha ha! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, as they just get their reservations in order.
Today’s film offering: Hotel Transylvania 2
Lilly: Dracula is back in this family fun sequel to Hotel Transylvania, a story about love transcending differences, to try and transcend even more differences. It’s a few years after the first film (which I highly suggest you see before this one, naturally) and Dracula’s daughter, Mavis, has married her ‘zing’, Jonathan, and they have had an adorable red-headed son named Dennis (or Denisovich, as Dracula insists on calling him). Question is, is Dennis a human like his dad, or a vampire like his mom?
Andy: We’ve seen Old Drac (Bleh Bleh Bleh) in a few guises over the years, but Doting Grandfather is certainly a new one on me. And thank heavens, before we go any further, that the pregnancy and labour aren’t, er, laboured. That has been done to death.
So yeah, five years on they have little Denisovich, who is very much a typical five year old. He likes animated puppet shows, rather than sahking blahd. Which is a problem for Dracula, because as his descendant, he feels he should be a vampire. So he packs off Mum and Dad to visit the in-laws, and then resolves to bring out Dennis’ latent vampirism. How does he do this? Road trip!
Lilly: That was actually a cool bit of vampire mythology there, wherein a vampire doesn’t necessarily get his fangs right away, and has until he is five to show them–if he doesn’t have them by five, he’s not a vamp after all. So, extra pressure on the kid.
Who is adorable, by the by. You know how cartoon kids (and sometimes real ones) can be too cute? In a way that has you just rolling your eyes? Dennis definitely avoids that, with his big eyes and red hair and adorable little voice–he just wants to make his Granpire (aaha they make this joke in the film twice and it’s still good) happy, and it’s ridiculously sweet.
Andy: Plus, the road trip idea gets the ‘gang’ from the first film back together – Frankenstein, Wolfman, The Mummy – and have them riff off of each other. And again, thank you movie for not going down the ‘lads away from their wives’ route. They’re just out to have a good time, not go crazy.
It’s also really nice to see a family film focus on a Grandparent for once – and not one where the parents are dead or absent but there and disagreeing with them.
Lilly: Hotel Transylvania explored the idea of what happens when your little girl wants to leave home, and Hotel Transylvania 2 continues along that thread. While it appeared at first that love was enough to keep his little girl at the hotel, this film doesn’t actually give Dracula that security of his family remaining close so easily. It doesn’t just let the relationship falling into her lap stop Mavis’ want to leave–the character actually grows, changes, and becomes even more interested in the outside world, driven by giving her son a chance to be accepted. Her desire is blindly driven, to the point that she doesn’t pick up on the word ‘normal’ being used in regards to humans until near the end, and it’s a good insight for a film pitched at children. What if he is ‘normal’ by the standards of her in-laws? What would that make her?
Andy: We also then get two stories – the aforementioned wacky road trip, and the subtler, sweeter story of a man taking his wife back to his hometown, and seeing it through their eyes. There’s also the absolute joy of having Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally as Jonathan’s parents. They absolutely nail that awkwardness of ‘normal’ people trying to be accommodating to outsiders and just ever-so-slightly getting it wrong. It’s far too subtle for kids, but I’m sure adults watching this cringe. I know I did.
Lilly: Absolutely. It takes off the experience of any mixed couple (be it race, social class, nationality, whatever), and it is really truthful to the experience of trying to find where you fit as a couple when you no longer fully fit into where either of you came from. Honestly, it’s really impressive how it is handled in this film.
Also impressive is the character of Winnie, one of Wayne the werewolf’s many, many pups. She has to be one of the strongest female characters I’ve seen in a children’s film. She was a great contrast to the sweetness of Dennis, and she was treated with the respect of a lead character when really only having ten minutes tops of screen time.
ALSO impressive is that this film still does what the original did, throwing back to classic monsters and tropes, from Jonathan’s fancy dress costume to a character this time around called Bela–get it? Eh? So good.
Andy: Having said that, we’re reading a lot into this film ,and what it is is a really fun, pretty funny family adventure. It’s better than Igor, that we reviewed the other day, and is probably about on par with the original in terms of quality. Definite recommend from us, bleh bleh bleh.