Every parent knows the challenge of letting go of their child as they become an adult, of seeing them leave the proverbial nest. If you’re a single parent, it can be more challenging, and perhaps the most challenging of all transitions is a father letting go of his daughter as she becomes a woman and parent in her own right.
With many comic moments and delightful visual gags, that’s really the story of ‘Hotel Transylvania 2,’ a sequel to the amusing 2012 animated feature that revolved around both parenting and race relations as single father Count Dracula (voice of Adam Sandler) creates a hotel for monsters where they can relax without fear of discovery from humans. When surfer dude Jonathan (Andy Samberg) stumbles into the hotel, he’s surprisingly not upset by all the monsters and quickly falls head over heels for Mavis (Selena Gomez), Dracula’s daughter.
The first film ends with human and vampire deciding to get married (don’t get too caught up in the logistics. It’s an animated children’s movie, after all) and the second picks up with Mavis and Jonathan expecting a child of their own. Dad, meanwhile, is doing everything he can to convince Mavis that she should stay in Transylvania for the rest of her life and raise their child in the Hotel rather than fly to California and live near Jonathan’s family.
In a parallel to what some interracial families might face, the big question in ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’ is whether the child Dennis (Asher Blinkoff) has latent monster abilities from his mother’s side of the family, or is a human baby just like his father. When Mavis and Jonathan decide to visit his family, Dracula and his buddies take advantage of the opportunity to put Dennis through an improvised monster boot camp to try and draw out any latent skills or abilities.
With that as the set up, ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’ manages to address some thoughtful topics while never slowing down with the antics and sight humor. Dracula’s best friends are Frankenstein (Kevin James), Wayne the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade), and Murray the Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key) and while they are frequently reticent about the tests Dracula imposes on little Dennis, it’s all done with a light humor that keeps the laughs flowing.
In recent years, Adam Sandler has released a series of bombs at the box office, so it’s a pleasure to report that ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’ is a nice, entertaining feature that has a classic animation style and pacing. Not only did my children find the film quite amusing but I also enjoyed it from start to finish, likely also recognizing a lot of passing “easter egg” lines and references that they missed completely. But that’s the mark of a good children’s movie, in my opinion, a film that works at one level for the children, but also has something to share with adults. And as a single father whose daughter is in a pretty serious relationship with her college sweetheart, I can also relate to Count Dracula’s dilemma about letting his daughter step out to her own life, or holding her close even as it gets increasingly awkward.
Lots of children’s movies are just time fillers. ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’ isn’t in that category. Check it out!