Hotel Transylvania 2 reunites us with the cast of spooky characters from the original film. Dracula (Adam Sandler) is still running the haunted hotel, but now has opened it up to humans as well. Meanwhile, daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and her husband Jonathan (Andy Samberg) have welcomed in a baby boy, Dennis (Asher Binkoff). Dracula is concerned that the half-human half-vampire baby won't be able to carry on the proud vampire lineage, so he and his group of monster friends set out on a mission to ensure that young Dennis fulfills his destiny and gets his fangs.
As a sequel, Hotel Transylvania exceeds the original in my opinion. The voice cast is fun, with most of the originals coming back. The addition of Nick Offerman and Megan Mulally as Jonathan's human parents added a nice twist, as did Keegan-Michael Key taking over for Cee Lo Green as the voice of Murray the mummy. Somehow, in this animated world, Adam Sandler is his most toned down and believable. You can take that as an indictment of his recent acting choices, but within this franchise he is quite enjoyable.
Oddly, it is the message within Hotel Transylvania 2 that I most enjoyed. Throughout the film, we have 2 concurrent storylines going on. The aforementioned plot of Drac and his cohorts taking young Dennis out and trying to make him a monster is a lot of fun. Meanwhile, Mavis and Jonathan are trying to fit in with the 'normal' world that doesn't quite understand them. Jonathan's parents are rather skeptical at first of Mavis' family, but make well-meaning attempts to learn. Ultimately what we get is the messages of acceptance of others and their differences. Even when old grampa Vlad (hilariously played by Mel Brooks) comes flying in full of hatred for humans, his heart is changed by the love of his grandson.
Another subject that is played up to great effect is the monsters themselves, and the nostalgia factor with them. A road trip takes up a large section of the film, and discussion turns to the good old days for our monsters. Frankenstein (Kevin James) has forgotten how to scare people, becoming a lovable caricature of the monster he was. Wayne the werewolf (Steve Buscemi) has no need to chase down prey, thanks to supermarkets, and is just tired trying to keep up with all his kids. Griffin the invisible man (David Spade) remembers longingly back on the good times they'd had. For a long time fan of these classic Universal characters, it is fun to reminisce about the great times had with them.
Hotel Transylvania 2 clips along at a nice pace, with a steady stream of laughs. Fans of the original will enjoy this sequel, and even those not familiar with the first film should have fun.
Jamison Rabbitt can be found reviewing films on his podcasts Movie Mojo Monthly and Real Films Podcast, as well as his weekly review tv show here.