What Hotel Transylvania lacks for in brand awareness to stand above the crowded Cineplex movies all trying to outdo each other for the family movie dollar, it thankfully makes up for in laughs.
If you haven’t seen the first movie it doesn’t matter too much – HT2 does a good enough job of explaining the prior theme (monsters learn to live peacefully in the human world) in just a few lines of exposition.
This time it’s about the further enmeshing of the two worlds as the young lovers, vampire Mavis (Selena Gomez) – daughter of Dracula (Adam Sandler) – and her human husband Jonathan (Andy Samberg) have a baby boy.
When little Dennis shows no signs of his monster heritage, Mavis wonders whether he wouldn’t be better living in the human world, so she goes off with Jonathan to California to spend some time with his parents and decide if they want to live there instead.
Drac is horrified at the idea of his little girl and grandson leaving, so while he minds Dennis he ropes his gang of cohorts – Frankenstein (Kevin James), Wayne the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade) and Murray the Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key) – into a scheme to convince her to stay. If they can encourage or force the baby’s monster side (fangs, etc) into being, it will convince Mavis to stay in Transylvania and raise her baby among his own kind.
There are lots of comic episodes involving a slapstick road trip, a holiday camp that’s way too risk averse and Mavis’ first real taste of the human world, and it’s all in the service of the family friendly theme of tolerance. Thankfully, it’s funny enough to hold your interest.
There’s a funny final coda introducing Mel Brooks as Drac’s powerful, crotchety vampire dad (complete with Jewish stereotype nagging parent voice), and after a spectacular US bow, Hotel Transylvania 2 might be the film to save Adam Sandler’s floundering career, audiences apparently tired of his usual shtick after That’s My Boy, Grown Ups 2 and Pixels.