- The Washington Times
Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Legendary horror icons came to animated life in theaters last year to help Dracula’s grandson become a monster in Hotel Transylvania 2 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Rated PG, 89 minutes).

In this sequel to the popular 2012 full-length cartoon, now on Blu-ray, Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) runs a successful hotel and is celebrating the marriage of his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) to a lovable human dope named Jonathan (Adam Sandburg).

The couple has a son named Dennis and when he does not quickly demonstrate vampiric traits, the hijinks of Mr. Sandler and Robert Smigel’s (“Saturday Night Live’s” TV Funhouse) wacky script really kick in.

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Drac’s best friends — Wayne the Wolfman (Steve Buscemi), Frankenstein (Kevin James), Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key) and the Invisible Man (David Spade) — try to help as they go on a road trip with the boy and show off their signature moves to inspire him, but old age keeps getting in their way.

The seemingly never-ending comedic all-star, voice-over cast also includes Fran Drescher as the bride of Frankenstein, Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally as Jonathan’s parents, Jon Lovitz as the phantom from “The Phantom of the Opera” and “the” Mel Brooks as ancient Count Vlad (Drac’s overbearing dad) who steals the macabre show with his grumpy shtick.

Director Genndy Tartakovsky (legendary creator of “Samurai Jack”), once again orchestrates some top-notch computer animation splendidly highlighted with the full-screen (1.85:1 aspect ratio) digital transfer.

Colors are vibrant; character models look near three-dimensional (without the help of 3-D technology during viewing); and the textured details to Dennis’ wild, curly red hair, an elder vampire bat’s musculature, the crusts on a bowl of monsterball soup and brushstrokes on an abstract painting are near life-like.

Youngsters should listen to closely when initially loading the navigation screen to hear Murray the Mummy beckoning them to dig further into the extras after watching the movie, one of the first times I remember a Blu-ray presentation actually doing that.

Those child-geared extras first include foley artist Robin Harlan teaching sound effects tricks such as how to make vampire bat-flapping sounds (try gloves or an old leather jacket), Frankenstein foot stomping (boots and gravel) and squishy noises (a car shammy soaked in water) to represent the gelatinous Blobby moving around.

Next, production designer Michael Kurinsky teaches actor Asher Blinkoff (Dennis) how to draw Dennis and Dracula from the film that, of course, becomes a great instructional segment for viewers.

Perhaps best of all, the Blu-ray even offers some culinary and design instructions on hosting the perfect monster party. The details include making bat garland and recipes for Frankenstein punch and cakes.

And, everyone in the room can sing along to a trio of tunes through Monster Lullaby Scary-Oke.

Adults will appreciate a pair of optional commentary tracks.

First, Mr. Tartakovsky offers a rather dry but informative look at the production focused on story and design choices including lighting, character design, colors and animation with details down to Dracula’s eye size and the creation of the unique and feisty wolf pups.

Next, Mr. Sanders, Mr. Smigel and executive producer Allen Covert joke and babble away like buddies hanging out in a living room. Yes, it’s worth listening to these wiseacres riff about cartoons and the story.

Overall, the “Hotel Transylvania 2” Blu-ray package not only delivers a clever look at some groovy ghoulies but fun for the whole, monster-loving family.

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