When I discovered it’s been three years since the first Hotel Transylvania was released, I was genuinely shocked.
It feels like yesterday when I settled down to sort-of-enjoy the Adam Sandler-led ghoulish animation and the love him or hate him Brooklyn-born comedian is back to co-produce and lend his dulcet tones to the return trip.
This time around Sandler’s Dracula and his monstrous friends are forced to try and ensure his half-human, half-vampire grandson, Dennis (Asher Blinkoff), embraces his dark side before daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) decides to up sticks and leave the hotel.
Much like its predecessor, Hotel Transylvania 2 is an entertaining cornucopia of classic horror characters under one roof and genre in-jokes galore that, alas, cannot compare with more emotionally meaty, classic animated fare.
Genndy Tartakovsky returns as director for only his second big screen outing and repeats the same visual tricks he made first time out, including swooping aerial camera shots and a nice mix of bright and gothic colours.
Sandler himself developed the script with first film co-writer Robert Smigel and the main crux of the story breaks off into two familiar comedic tropes; the culture clash and road trip.
Jonathan (Andy Samberg) and Mavis’ human and monster families are forced to come together in Shrek-like fashion when the couple get married and the pair’s visit to California peaks with a fun stop-off at a 24-hour minimart.
Meanwhile, Dracula and the gang take Dennis on a trip down memory lane that doesn’t quite turn out as planned due to the neutering of their finest scare tactics and old haunts.
Marking Sandler’s least annoying turn in years, Dracula as a family man is a delightful role-reversal and the sequel’s most touching moments are shared between the cracking count and his daughter.
The laughs come thick and fast too. Whether it’s clever sight gags – a walking Picasso painting, lampooning Gary Oldman’s take on Dracula – or the rather predictable inclusion of the monsters trying to get to grips with modern technology, Sandler and Smigel know how to tickle the funny bones of both ankle biters and those old enough to remember watching old Hammer horrors on TV.
Old favourites like Steve Buscemi’s werewolf Wayne and Kevin James’ Frankenstein are joined by newbies including Mel Brooks’ grouchy vampire Vlad and Jon Lovitz’s cheeky Phantom of the Opera.
The Invisible Man (David Spade) and his ‘girlfriend’ steal scenes and there’s thankfully less screen time for Samberg and CeeLo Green’s mummy, two of the first flick’s most grating presences.
Like an animated Addams Family – complete with its baby son-led sequel – the Hotel Transylvania series remains action light but harmless family fun.