Here we have an essay in relativity. You see, I didn’t think much of Hotel Transylvania 2 while I was watching it. For that matter, I still don’t, and I didn’t think much of the first one either. But about five minutes after Hotel Transylvania 2, I was watching The Green Inferno, and it wasn’t long till the good points of Hotel 2 shone out like a beacon. Or maybe not. But it made me feel positively kindly toward the cartoon. Plus, the cartoon got two (intentional) chuckles out of me (both involving a GPS system with a Peter Lorre voice). In the bargain, I greatly enjoyed the folks on the IMDb message boards fretting over the possibility that Dracula’s daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and her fellow, Jonathan (Andy Samberg), had an out-of-wedlock child and whether Mavis could even go into a church. (It seems to bother no one that Mavis doesn’t have a pulse.) Does this mean I’m recommending Hotel 2? Only as an alternative to The Green Inferno. Otherwise — as Bela is my witness — no, I am not.
Basically, this is your average, undistinguished CG-animation — except with classic horror characters reconfigured for the … er … talents of Adam Sandler (as Dracula) and his coterie of friends. That they are less annoying in disembodied form is a marginal improvement. You still have to spend 90 minutes with Sandler doing a bad Lugosi impression. In other words, it’s not entirely unlike 90 minutes with Count Chocula. Bear that in mind.
The whole film is about Dracula desperately trying get his half-human grandson to show his monster side by sprouting fangs and learning how to fly so that Mavis won’t take the kid to Santa Cruz to live among “normal” people. (And you can relax — nuptials take place, and a full year elapses before this child is born, so the fabric of society is not challenged. That they aren’t exactly a same-species couple is no concern of mine.) That’s pretty much it, though it’s festooned with mediocre jokes and so-so animated slapstick shenanigans — not to mention Mel Brooks as a distinctly Borscht Belt Grandpa Vlad. I’d say — based on the audience I saw it with — it’s the sort of thing that will entertain the kids. Their parents did not seem displeased, and it is, I admit, largely painless. Now, having said that, I notice a Canadian critic writing about the terror-stricken children in the audience he saw it with. I grant you that, when I was five (1959-ish), it would have scared me, but I tend to think of today’s youth as more jaded than I was back then.
Watching the audience file into this movie prompted me to tell my wife, “See? Having a movie critic for a husband is like having a small child. You still have to go see things like this.” I can, however, guarantee you that this downside of her life paled into insignificance one movie later. Even critics’ hapless wives are subject to relativity. Rated PG for some scary images, action and rude humor.