Unlike many animated tales that end with a happily-ever-after-wedding, “Hotel Transylvania 2” starts with one. In this mildly amusing sequel to 2012’s “Hotel Transylvania,” slacker human Jonathan (Andy Samberg) is marrying his vampire love, Mavis (Selena Gomez), bringing together a human and monster guest list that predictably results in silly, if not particularly laugh-aloud shenanigans.
Once Mavis and Jonathan are officially newlyweds, the story line fast-forwards as the two announce her pregnancy and welcome ginger-curled Dennis to the family. While vampa (“vampire” plus “grandpa”) Dracula (Adam Sandler) is thrilled with his first grandson, he’s impatient for the boy’s fangs to descend, something that must happen by age 5. Another montage later, and it’s nearly little Dennis’s fifth birthday — will he be a monster like his mom, or just a human like his dad?
Drac enlists his middle-aged monster besties — werewolf Wayne (Steve Buscemi), Frankenstein (Kevin James), invisible man Griffin (David Spade) and mummy Murray (Keegan-Michael Key) — to help show sheltered Dennis what it means to be a monster. But they’re all too exhausted, out of practice or mild-mannered to summon the scary powers Drac hopes will inspire Dennis.
To initiate the boy into his role as a creature of the night, the monster squad revisits its old Transylvania haunts with Dennis, a bit that’s easily the highlight of the movie. The road trip, though, only shows how times have changed. At one point, a decidedly unfrightened man tells Drac, “Love your chocolate cereal.”
Underneath the layers of gross-out humor (the gelatinous creature Blobby envelops others whole and then spits them out covered in goo) and the many jokes about the coddling nature of modern parenting, there are surprisingly relevant messages about tolerance, acceptance and identity. Drac desperately wants his half-vampire, half-human progeny to get his fangs, not recognizing that Dennis already fully embraces his monster heritage.
Comedy legend Mel Brooks graces the voice cast as the ancient vampire Vlad, Drac’s human-hating father. Vlad and his giant demon-bat are the movie’s only antagonists. But never fear, because even a bigoted old immortal can’t resist his “mixed” great-grandbaby.
Working off a predictable script by Sandler and Robert Smigel, director Genndy Tartakovsky hasn’t created the sort of sequel that eclipses the original, but then again the original wasn’t exactly “Toy Story” or “How to Train Your Dragon.”
If you enjoy Sandler’s brand of obvious humor and don’t mind noticeable Sony product placements, this inoffensive sequel is, like its predecessor, just enough for a Halloween treat.
Chen is a freelance writer.
PG. At area theaters. Contains mild rude humor and frightening creatures. 89 minutes.