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Movie Review

Vampire girl Mavis and her simple-but-sweet human love Jonathan are enjoying the bliss of young married family life. Their curly haired tyke Dennis is just so cute and sweet you could almost eat him up … which can be a bit of a worry since they're living in a hotel populated by hungry monsters. In fact, it's been enough of a worry that Mavis has been thinking about moving.

After all, if Dennis is as purely human as the little guy appears to be, then it would be far safer for them to move to a nice little human community. Hey, they could move to Jonathan's hometown in California. Sure, Mavis would have to stock up on lots of oversized hats and tubs of SPF-1000 sunscreen, but it would be worth it.

Of course that's the very last thing proud-as-punch Grandpa Dracula wants to see happen. Having Mavis and her family move away would be the equivalent of a stake to the heart for him. I mean, that's why he's opened up Hotel Transylvania to human tourists as of late. Just to prove that monsters and mankind can get along. Besides, he's certain little Dennis is going to sprout some fangs and prove his vampireness any day … now.

It's not the kid's fault that he's all red haired and rosy cheeked and lacking all the beautiful morbid pallor of the living dead! He's a late bloomer, that's all. Still, maybe Grandpa better take matters into his own sharp-clawed hands and see if he can push things along a bit.

So while Mavis and Jonathan fly off to visit with the in-laws, Dracula gathers his ghoulish pals to revisit their old haunts and help him muster up a little moon-mugging mania in the boy. The problem is, they've all gotten so used to humans hanging around them as they've slowly adopted a kinder, gentler, non-monstery way of life that it's really hard for them to be scary anymore. In fact, it's nigh on impossible.

And it's certainly not helping ol' Drac's cause that Mavis is really starting to get into the California scene. That she loves the neon-lit open-all-night mini-marts that sell, like, 48 different flavors of slushies. That she's thinking slurping those slushies is way better than hunting horrible beasties in a dark Transylvanian forest.

Dear Daddy Dracula needs to come up with a solution pretty quick. Because losing his beloved family would be a fate worse than death.

Well, you know what he means!

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Positive Elements

Setting aside any sort of spiritual or morbid or monsters-are-bad mindsets for the sake of what this story's trying to say, we arrive at this positive desintation: familial love and cross-cultural (cross-species) acceptance in the spotlight.

Human and monster clans all display love for their own kind, and eventually show respect for friends and family members who aren't quite as hairy, scary or, as the case may be, as mild-mannered as they. Even Great-Grandpa Vlad shows up and buries the I-hate-humans hatchet once he comes to understand that his former loathing was malevolently misplaced. Young Dennis even gets in on the action, fighting for an injured werewolf friend named Winnie. And in the end, man-bats who want to foment a monster-human war are beaten back and shunned by all.

In the midst of the monster-human tug and pull, Mavis worries aloud that her son will end up being "freaky" like her. Jonathan assures her that she's awesome, and he'd be proud to have Dennis be just like her. Dracula eventually bares his true fangs—er, I mean, feelings to his grandson and tells him, "Human, vampire, unicorn—you are perfect, no matter what."

Spiritual Content

These vampires, werewolves and other monsters are no more spiritually construed than are those babbling and brawling yellow minions in the Despicable Me movies. So it's almost odd that Dracula worries his old-school vampire father will attack all the humans in the hotel and "steal their souls." Also, several vampire characters magically transform into bats.

Sexual Content

Frankenstein is caught mid-change with his shirt off, and so he stands there self-consciously for a bit. Murray the mummy shows up at a party with an über-curvy mummy girlfriend. He mentions how "hot" she is. A joking comment is made about "my grandma's boobies."

Violent Content

Frankenstein pulls his own head off for a selfie. He accidentally falls into a bonfire and sets a whole camp ablaze as he runs around in his burning clothes. Blobby the blob is hit repeated with branches and thrown off the side of a cliff (which doesn't really phase him since he's a blob). A monster is stretched on a "rack." An abominable snowman has his waist and legs shorn of hair by a group of sharp-toothed werewolf cubs. Dracula tweaks the Invisible Man's nipples (which, of course, we can't see). A group of man-bats is beaten and pummeled; one takes a thump to the crotch.

Dracula sings a lullaby titled "Suffer, Suffer Scream in Pain," and he talks of a camp song called "Old McWerewolf Had an Ax." For all of his silliness, Dracula also speaks of his desire to see Dennis "guzzling goat blood in no time." While trying to coax vampire abilities out of the lad, Dracula throws the seemingly very human boy off a mile-high platform. (Drac swoops down and saves the screaming child before he hits the rocks below, and Dennis soon giggles at the great fun.)

Crude or Profane Language

Solo uses of "jeez" and "gosh," along with exclamations of "holy rabies" and "oh my devil." Somebody says somebody else's wig looks like a "baboon's butt."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Dracula pours glasses of bottled blood for everyone at dinner.

Other Negative Elements

Several toilet humor giggles gurgle up to surface, including the sight of Blobby "urinating" on a tree. Also, a beastie rips out a toilet and gets blasted with a fountain of water as he pulls down his shorts. Vlad tells a story of Dracula "peeing" in his bed as a child.

Dracula lies to his daughter about keeping Dennis out all night.

The sensual girl group Fifth Harmony comes on board to sing the movie's theme song. And Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" appears in the trailer.

Conclusion

OK, it's bottom line time: There are plenty of reasons to shiver over the idea of exposing your children to any Halloween-y monster lore. And you know right off that a movie called Hotel Transylvania 2 isn't about finding a good bed and breakfast in Romania. Though, just for the record, this particular kidified version of Dracula and his goofy gallery of ghoulish pals is likely the least creepy creepster flick you'll ever encounter.

Even though Grandpappy Drac wants to motivate his grandson to sink deep into the family's bloodsucking roots, he and the other baddies are so good-natured and modern-world homogenized that they can't be scary or dangerous even when they try. After repeated failings on their part, Murray the mummy goes so far as to decry, "We don't need to kill anymore. We have Pop-Tarts!"

That's exactly the kind of eye-rollery director Genndy Tartakovsky said he and his filmmaking crew were howling after: something "cartoony, irreverent and silly … with some heart."

What does that heart look like? Well, it's not goo-covered and spurting, to be sure. It's a simple kid-friendly message about embracing friends and loved ones no matter how odd or out of the wolf pack they may seem to be—an age-old aphorism kids have needed to internalize ever since Cain and Abel found themselves at dagger's points. In fact, if you want to go so far as to apply biblical wisdom to a tall tale about Drac and Vlad, you might even spot a touch of advice from Luke 6 and Romans 14 amidst the monster-mash goofiness.

Does that extra-cinematic life lesson mean there's anything in this oddball Halloween party pic worth really sinking your teeth into, though? Not really. But at least the movie doesn't bite back … very hard.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

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Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

PG

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Voices of Adam Sandler as Dracula; Selena Gomez as Mavis; Andy Samberg as Jonathan; Kevin James as Frankenstein; Steve Buscemi as Wayne; David Spade as Griffin; Keegan-Michael Key as Murray; Mel Brooks as Vlad

Director

Genndy Tartakovsky ( Hotel Transylvania)

Distributor

Sony/Columbia

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

September 25, 2015

On Video

January 12, 2016

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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