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terça-feira, 27 de outubro de 2015
Hotel Transylvania 2 review: 'Spirited and surprisingly sophisticated'
The follow up to Genndy Tartakovsky's 2012 family hit has jokes to please all ages and progressive messages about tolerance
The BBFC guidelines for Hotel Transylvania 2 promise “mild scary scenes, slapstick violence, and rude humour”, all of which are present and correct, in small enough doses that it just about gets away with a U certificate. What they might have added is “progressive and surprisingly sophisticated messaging about tolerance”.
Like the first entry in this animated Sony Pictures franchise, the film is spirited, engaging, and has an idea: it’s about mutual tensions between the undead and the living, who have forged a truce up in the Carpathians. It begins with Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) presiding over the wedding between his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and a slightly dim-bulb human called Jonathan (Andy Samberg), who spent most of the first film in disguise as the supposed cousin of Frankenstein’s monster.
The happy couple duly announce they’re expecting, too. But expecting what? The child that emerges, Dennis (Asher Blinkoff), has his dad’s shock of ginger hair, but they wait and wait for vampire characteristics to materialise, specifically those pointy canines. “He’ll be fanging it up in no time!” bellows his gung-ho granddad, who can’t believe that any scion with a portion of his genes could possibly fail to grow into a full-fledged bloodsucker.
Let’s pause to reflect on how risqué that double entendre is. Might Sandler’s Drac be allying vampirism with the out-and-proud gay rights movement? It certainly sounds like it. “People are totally cool with our lifestyle choice”, say an unorthodox couple later on – though the film doesn’t restrict its be-what-you-are endorsements to any given minority.
It’s the living who are the minority here, in any case. On the human side, the older generation – Jonathan’s parents – haven’t yet shaken off their prejudices and inherent dread of the undead. Without being vilified too aggressively, they seem stuffy and out of touch, because the monsters in these films are straight from the Addams Family sketchbook of cuddly Gothic: they wouldn’t harm a fly.
Counterbalancing their bigotry from the other side is Dennis’s great-grandfather or “great vampa” Vlad, an atavistic and human-phobic Nosferatu type, who’s pleasingly played in a late-arriving cameo by 89-year-old Mel Brooks. It’s generous of the film to throw in this little nod to stuff like Brooks’s Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995) – niche scholarship, but appreciated. And there’s more in this vein: Jonathan dons fancy dress and attempts Gary Oldman’s double-beehive hairdo from Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), which kvetching old Brooks, clearly more of a traditionalist, says “looks like my grandmother’s boobies”.
Unusually for any film top-billed by Adam Sandler these days, there are jokes to please young and old: it’s hard to dislike any wedding sequence in which the Invisible Man, sitting next to an empty chair, has to explain he’s brought a date. The notion of babyproofing Dracula’s castle is also pretty great, especially a stairgate fixed in front of a bottomless chasm. One day a mid-list family animation will figure out how to end without a take-your-bows disco dance – a rather boring, happy-clappy sop to convention, not unlike voting through gay marriage and then making it obligatory. But all this film's other steps are pleasingly light, and in the right direction.