It’s as rare as vampires on a beach to have a movie sequel be better than the original. But, Vampires might start looking for some sunglasses because the spookiest thing about “Hotel Transylvania 2” is how much funnier, colorful and original it is this second time around.
There was nothing particularly wrong – or right – with the 2012 movie. It was just a series of lightweight jokes in a movie that’s main plus was proving Adam Sandler should be heard and not seen. His voicing of Dracula, a blood-drinking dad whose concerned about the love life of his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez), was the only thing that stood out.
The action picks up with Mavis making Dracula a new vampa (grandpa and vampire). Everyone is waiting to see if Dennis will be like his mom and sprout fangs or end up like his dad and be human. If Dennis doesn’t get his fangs by the time he turns 5, it will be too late.
Dracula plans to scare the monster into the infant.
One reason the film works so much better is that the action is divided between life in the monster and human worlds. Mavis starts to think it might be safer to raise Dennis in California.
This allows for some entertaining parallel comedy as Dracula and his motley crew learn their world has been modernized to the point they are more rock stars than feared creatures. The most terrifying thing is they live in a world where the scariest creatures are lawyers ready to sue if something goes wrong.
At the same time, Mavis is learning there are some weird creatures who haunt California.
Genndy Tartakovsy returns as director and he’s kicked up the energy. And, that’s not a ploy to cover over weakly written material. The script by Sandler and Robert Smigel blends some very funny slapstick comedy with some equally smart references for horror film fan aficionados.
The director has layered the comedy so well, it’s difficult to see all of the funny material happening in the background through a single viewing. Any director of animation who adds these kinds of levels is giving the audience a bonus. And that bonus is very funny.
“Hotel Transylvania 2” features many of the actors who Sandler often uses in his movies. Most of the time they just look like all they care about is cashing a paycheck. But, in “Hotel Transylvania 2,” they come across as fresh because of the sharp animation and smart writing. The running gag of the Invisible Man claiming to have an Invisible Woman girlfriend works both as a solid joke and because David Spade brings just the right loser tone to the role.
Kevin James is another example of an actor showing more life as a voice talent. His Frankenstein is so fun, he could survive in his own spin-off film. But, it would be a shame to break up this gang just when they have started to find their invisible, hairy, mummified and bloodless comedy legs.
“Hotel Transylvania 2” is the kind of high energy, colorful movie that will keep youngsters interested and entertained. At the same time, the humor is smart and the story sweet enough enough that parents won’t mind sitting through this tale.
It’s anything but blah, blah, blah.
Hotel Transylvania 2
- Rated PG for some scary images, rude humor
- Stars: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, David Spade
- Directed by Genndy Tartakovsy
- Running time: 87 minutes
- Opens Friday, Sept. 25