Hotel Transylvania 2 Is Frightful, But Not In A Good Way

Courtesy: Sony Pictures Animation

Courtesy: Sony Pictures Animation

This past January Sony Pictures Animation released its family friendly flick Hotel Transylvania 2 on DVD and Blu-ray.  The movie, which is the follow-up to Adam Sandler’s hit 2012 movie Hotel Transylvania pales in comparison to that movie even no that it has been released on DVD and Blu-ray.  It isn’t a total loss.  However it is anything but a success, too.  The movie’s story is one of its few saving graces.  It is actually a natural progression from the story behind Hotel Transylvania.  At the same time it isn’t without its own glaring problem.  The movie’s pacing is just as much of a mixed bag.  That will be discussed later.  Last but not least of note within this movie is the work of the movie’s cast.  Sandler and cast mate Selena Gozmez impress once again as Dracula and his daughter Mavis.  Sadly Andy Samberg is not as impressive as he reprises the role of Jonathan.  Luckily his portrayal is the only one that stands out as being truly underwhelming.  Sandler and Gomez both shine in their respective roles.  Together with the work of the movie’s writers, their work serves to make Hotel Translyvania 2 a pale shadow of its predecessor that is fun, but yet another forgettable flick that did not need to be made.  It shows in the end to be more proof that not every movie nowadays needs a sequel (or a prequel or remake either).

Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania 2 is a fun new installment in this franchise.  However it isn’t entirely memorable even with its few saving graces.  One of those rare saving graces is the movie’s story.  Even that isn’t saying much.  The story centers once again on Mavis and Dracula’s relationship as father and daughter.  The pair’s relationship changes even more here from the series’ first installment as Mavis becomes a mother and Dracula becomes a grandfather.  The change happens because Dennis, Mavis and Jonathan’s son, doesn’t immediately show signs of being a vampire.  Dracula doesn’t like this so he takes Dennis on a road trip while Mavis and Jonathan go on vacation.  The catch is that only he and Jonathan know that the trip is really to try and scare Dennis’ inner vampire out.  At the heart of the story is not so much the road trip and the antics of Dracula and his friends but Dracula’s growing realization that times and people have changed.  This includes the realization that even his own daughter has changed.  She’s not a little girl anymore.  Using such a story line is a time honored tradition for filmmakers.  So it is anything but new in its use here.  And that is in itself a problem for the movie.  It leaves one asking did the movie even need to be made?  This is asked especially considering how well the series’ first installment was wrapped up.  The honest answer here is a decisive no.  It did not need to be made.  The previous movie could easily have been left by itself.  But someone decided that it should and that it should use such a familiar story line.  Even with that in mind it still manages to entertain audiences in its use here.  While the time honored story line does manage to keep audiences entertained in the case of this movie, the story’s pacing counters that entertainment and ends up bogging down the story.

The story at the center of Hotel Transylvania 2 is an entertaining work.  This is the case even though the story is anything but original.  Even as surprisingly entertaining as it proves to be the story does have one major con—its pacing.  The story’s pacing is all over the place throughout the course of the movie.  It starts off almost right where Hotel Transylvania left off. Mavis and Jonathan are getting married.  They then head off on their honeymoon.  From there, the movie jumps to the couple returning to the hotel with their announcement about Mavis’ pregnancy.  Things don’t get any better from there.  The story jumps from there to Dennis’ birth and then from one birthday to the next until finally it reaches the days leading up to his fifth birthday.  According to the story, that is when Dennis is supposed to show the first signs of being a vampire.  This is so problematic because there are no clear transitions from one point to the next throughout all of that time passage.  It forces audiences to have to really pay close attention throughout those early potions of the story.  Luckily things do finally settle into a stable rhythm from here.  The problem is that the pacing doesn’t stay solid from here.  Instead of speeding back up the pacing reaches a point at which it feels like it slows down.  It slows to the point that older audiences will find themselves checking their watches.  It doesn’t get any better from there either.  At least it doesn’t until the movie finally ends.  By the time it ends, audiences are left feeling like the movie’s roughly ninety-minute run time is about half an hour longer or more.  Even as problematic as the movie’s unstable pacing proves to be to the movie’s presentation, it is made at least somewhat bearable thanks to the work of the movie’s two main stars, Adam Sandler and Selena Gomez.

The pacing of Hotel Transylvania 2’s story is a hugely problematic issue for the movie.  That is because of how inconsistent it is from beginning to end.  It doesn’t ruin the movie’s story.  But it does weigh it down quite noticeably, though.  Now as much of a problem as the story’s pacing proves to be for the movie in the bigger picture, it is countered by co-stars Adam Sandler and Selena Gomez.  This is especially the case at the points at which the pair directly interact with one another.  This includes not only the pair’s early interactions in the movie’s early minutes but also the pair’s interaction after Mavis discovers via YouTube what her father was really doing with her son.  Of course that moment is just as interesting.  Even though Gomez obviously isn’t a parent she successfully captures the fire that any mother would have when her child/children is/are in danger.  Her determination to get to Dennis will have audiences of all ages laughing and cheering her on, too.  The same can be said of her emotion in confronting her father about his lies.  It’s just too bad that Andy Samberg can’t be so openly applauded.  Given Samberg was just playing the part of Jonathan.  But his character is just as forgettable as is his portrayal of Jonathan.  Thankfully Sandler’s other cast mates pick up Samberg’s slack as they join Dracula on his road trip.  Steve Buscemi and Kevin James are a laugh riot as Wayne and Frankenstein respectively as a pair of supposedly scary monsters who are more mundane than monstrous.  David Spade is entertaining in his own right as Griffin the invisible man.  And Keegan –Michael Key is just as funny as Murray the mummy.  Audiences will love watching him try to be scary, only to throw out his back time and again.  It is a running gag.  But it never gets old at any point.  Key never overdoes it in these moments.  Because he doesn’t he remains just as funny the first time he pulls the bit as the last.  Whether through Key’s expert comic timing, Buscemi and James’ unassuming comic portrayals of their characters, or even for the work of Sandler and Gomez, the work of Hotel Transylvania 2’s voice cast by and large proves to be one more of this movie’s saving graces.  Together with the movie’s story the two elements combine to make Hotel Transylvania 2 a movie that while fun still proves to be a relatively forgettable story.

Sony Pictures Animation’s latest installment in the Hotel Transylvania franchise is not the series’ worst installment.  But considering its cons set against its far fewer pros, it is anything but a standout showing.  Rather it proves through its all too familiar story line and its problematic pacing to be more forgettable than fun.  Its only real saving grace is the work of its voice cast.  Adam Sandler and Selena Gomez shine again as Dracula and his daughter Mavis.  David Spade, Kevin James, and Steve Buscemi are entertaining in their own right as Dracula’s monster friends.  Andy Samberg is the only real disappointment among the movie’s voice cast.  Yes, Jonathan is supposed to be a somewhat airheaded California skater hippie type figure.  And yes, Samberg really plays up the part.   But he plays it up perhaps too much.  Thankfully the rest of his cast mates make up for that in their own portrayals, in turn serving collectively as the movie’s only real saving grace.  Keeping this in mind even with a story that is mildly entertaining at best and relatively enjoyable acting, Hotel Transylvania 2 proves in the end to be a pale shadow of its predecessor and a movie that is more forgettable than fun.  It is available now in stores and online on DVD and Blu-ray + DVD combo pack.

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Fifth Harmony Gets Spooky With Hotel Transylvania 2 Soundtrack’s Lead Single

Courtesy:  Sony Pictures Animation

Courtesy: Sony Pictures Animation

Adam Sandler and company are back. Next month, Sony Pictures Animation will release Hotel Translyvania 2. And ahead of the highly anticipated movie’s release, the hit pop group Fifth Harmony has debuted the lead single from the movie’ s sound track ‘I’m In Love With A Monster’ and audiences can check it out online now via Vevo.

Courtesy:  Epic Records

Courtesy: Epic Records

Audiences can check out the video for ‘I’m In Love With A Monster’ online now via Vevo at http://www.vevo.com/watch/fifth-harmony/Im-In-Love-With-a-Monster-(from-Hotel-Transylvania-2)/USSM21501512. The video mixes together footage of the group performing its song in various settings along with footage from the movie as well as appearances from some rather spooky guests. While many of the group’s songs are generally aimed at specific audiences, the infectious grooves and family friendly lyrical content are sure to make the song just one more part of the movie that families will enjoy.

Fifth Harmony is currently winding down its “Reflection Summer Tour.” It is currently scheduled to perform live at Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland on Saturday, September 5th and at the Washington State Fair on Wednesday, September 16th. After those two dates, the group will take some down time, it will be back on Stage on Wednesday, December 2nd at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. All of the latest updates on Fifth Harmony’s tour is available online now along with all of the group’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.fifthharmonyofficial.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fifthharmony

Twitter: http://twitter.com/fifthharmony

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Pac-Man Fever Returns Just In Time For Pixels Premiere

Courtesy:  ABC PR

Courtesy: ABC PR

Adam Sandler’s latest big screen feature Pixels hits theaters across America today. In celebration of the movie’s nationwide premiere the classic hit song ‘Pac Man Fever’ has now gotten new life.

An updated version of Buckner & Garcia’s hit song debuted this week featuring film/game producer and personality Jace Hall. Audiences can check out the song’s lyric video online now via Popmatters.com at http://www.popmatters.com/post/195747-buckner-garcia-feat.-jace-hall-pac-man-fever-eat-em-up-2015-video-pr/.

Courtesy:  ABCPR/Popmatters.com

Courtesy: ABCPR/Popmatters.com

The original take of ‘Pac-Man Fever’ sold an incredible 1.2 million copies in 1982. Of those 1.2 million copies, a sum of 10,000 copies was moved in the song’s first week of availability, pushing the song into the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Chart. The surprising results of the song’s creation led to the release of a full album that took only two weeks for Buckner and Garcia to complete. The album, also titled Pac-Man Fever, sold more than two and a half million copies pushing the album all the way to the #9 spot on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart. Since that time the single, which started it all has gone on to sell more than two million copies. Audiences of all ages will be especially interested to note of this update that it retains the original vocal track by Gary Garcia, who passed away in 2011.

Audiences can see a performance of the original ‘Pac-Man Fever’ from a 1982 broadcast of American Bandstand online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEGSFk-vCqU.

More information on ‘Pac-Man Fever’ and its subsequent album is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.pacmanfevereatemup.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PacManFeverEatEmUp

Twitter: http://twitter.com/pacmanfeverOG

 

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Airheads Blu-ray Re-Issue Hits All the Right Notes

Courtesy:  Starz/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Starz/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Airheads is one of the most underappreciated comedies of the 90s.  This spoof on the inner workings of the music industry is one that every movie and music lover should see at least once.  This is regardless of what genre of music one listens to.  And thanks to Starz and Anchor Bay Entertainment, everybody can enjoy this undervalued movie once again.  It will be re-issued next Tuesday, May 28th on Blu-ray.

Everybody by now knows how difficult it is to break out in the music industry.  So when three hard working musicians are turned down too many times by record label reps who barely give their demo tape the slightest listen, the trio—Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and Adam Sandler—known as “The Lone Rangers” decide to take a drastic step and hold a radio station  hostage.  Ironically, the deejay on staff at the time (played by Joe Mantegna—The Simpsons, Criminal Minds, Joan of Arcadia) ends up actually helping the young musicians as he has become so jaded by the music that he is forced to play by the station manager.  Making things even worse is the revelation that the manager (played by fellow veteran actor Michael McKean) was going to sell the station and change its format, effectively laying off everyone on staff.  Thus ensues an absolutely hilarious poke at those in the highest positions of power within the music business.

Steve Buscemi, Adam Sandler and Brendan Fraser have all gone on to relatively stable success, playing both more comedic roles and some very dramatic roles since the original release of Airheads in 1994.  But there is no denying the chemistry that the trio had in playing their roles together.  Nor is there denying how much fun they must have had, too.  There is not one moment throughout the movie’s roughly hour and a half run time that doesn’t generate its share of laughs.  This includes the late Chris Farley’s scene in which his character Wilson rips the nipple ring off of a man who was making fun of Wilson.  The reaction both by Wilson and the man to this is absolutely hilarious.  That and other moments are more proof that Farley was just as good on the big screen as he was as a cast member of Saturday Night Live.  The same can be said of his cast mate, Adam Sandler.  On a side note, Saturday Night Live hasn’t been as good to this day as it was in the 90s.  When the last member of that cast left, that show went downhill.

The primary story of “The Lone Rangers” taking over the radio station will keep any comedy lover engaged throughout the story.  It’s obvious that no one either behind the cameras or in front of them, had any intention of taking themselves seriously.  That’s a big part of why this was such a fun story.  It is just as obvious how much fun the cast and crew had when Ian The Shark (Joe Mantegna) goes off on Milo when he finds out that Milo was going to sell the station.  It would have been funny to see a gag reel showing how many takes it had to have taken for that one scene, everything else aside.  What many people don’t realize about the music industry is just how much radio personalities hate the music that comes through their headphones.  Nearly twenty years after the movie’s debut, Ian’s statement that so much of the music sounds the same rings true.  Making things worse is station program directors who are scared to death of trying anything new and different, I.E. Milo.  It’s one of those timeless stories to which so many hopeful musicians can relate.  Every struggling musician has reached the point of desperation because of those in positions of power.  But none have ever gone to the lengths which “The Lone Rangers” went.  Keeping that in mind, Airheads becomes one of those matters of circumstantial comedy that for once is actually funny and will be for another near two decades and then some.  It will be available next Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray and can be ordered direct via the Anchor Bay Entertainment website at http://www.anchorbayentertainment and sign up for the store.

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Hotel Transylvania Is Halloween Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation

Hotel Transylvania is hardly the most memorable of the year’s holiday movies.  In its defense, it isn’t the worst, either.  One part Monsters, Inc. and one part Mad Monster Party, it has just enough heart and jokes to make it appealing to both parents and children.  The heart of the movie comes from the primary storyline in which Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) throws a party for his daughter, Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez—Wizards of Waverly Place).  It takes place on the eve of her *ahem* 118th birthday.  The thing is that this incarnation of Dracula is like any other parent.  He knows that his daughter is an adult.  But he’s scared to let her go and cut the leash.  This is something to which every parent can relate.  Sure, so many movies use this kind of plot.  But the execution of the storyline offers enough heart to make it enjoyable for parents even in the twenty-first century.Hotel Transylvania’s primary plot is executed in an original manner.  But without its secondary plot, the main story of Dracula learning to let go of his daughter might not have worked so well.  That secondary plot is the buddy comedy between Dracula and Jonathan (voiced by fellow SNL alum Andy Samberg).  At first the pair is at odds with each other.  But thanks to a course of events, they end up becoming close friends.  It’s that series of events that will leave both kids and parents laughing and really make the movie worth its hour and a half run time.

The dual storylines written into Hotel Transylvania make it an enjoyable movie both for parents and kids.  On another level it’s enjoyable in that seeing the collection of classic Universal movie monsters will make parents (and even grandparents) feel nostalgic.  At the same time, it serves as a good way to indoctrinate young audiences into the world of classic horror monsters.  This combined with the movie’s family friendly storylines makes it a movie that while hardly memorable, is worth at least one watch.

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