It has a little over 20 laughs — or at least mild chuckles. Most courtesy of quick-cut sight gags, pratfalls and the like.
And the animation is sharper, deeper, more refined.
So yeah, we can call “Hotel Transylvania 2” a minor improvement over the first film, an Adam Sandler animated comedy about a hotel for vampires, werewolves, zombies and other monsters, run by a doting vampire dad.
As Sandler’s career as a Hollywood leading man winds up, he’s got this franchise ahead of him — doing the almost-funny voices, keeping his cadre of cronies (Spade, Samberg, assorted out of work “SNL” veterans) employed a little longer.
The first time, single-dad Dracula (Sandler) was trying to keep with wayward teen (Selena Gomez) from falling for a nerdy human backpacker (Andy Samberg). This time, they’re married. They’ve produced a little boy. He may or may not be a vampire, and “Vamp-pa” Drac is dying to know.
He babysits, sings a version of “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” sure to keep the kiddies up at night.
“Suffer, suffer, scream in pain, you will never breathe again.”
He takes the kid on a little coming-of-age treck with his monster pals (Buscemi, Spade, Kevin James and others do the voices), revisiting his reckless past and hoping to jolt the kid into growing some fangs.
Meanwhile, the in-laws (Nick Offerman and Megan Mullaly, not given one funny thing to say) are trying to convince Mavis (Gomez) and Jonathan (Samberg) to move to California.
Sandler vamps it up — a little. He sings a cute ukelele wedding song in the wedding scene. He lisps like a vampire, “stake my heart and hope to die.” He makes vampires all warm and cuddly.
“We don’t need to kill any more. We love PopTarts!”
The animation owes a lot to the ghoulish “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” the sight gags –many involve the Jello-mold monster “The Blob” — find laughs through quick cuts. “SNL” vet Robert Smigel took a pass at the script, so credit any non-Sandler singing gags to him.
It skews very young, and for that crowd, “Hotel Transylvania 2” works well enough. If this is Sandler’s sentence for all the awful, lazy live-action fare he’s fed his fans over the years, he and we can say he got off easy.
Cast: The voices of Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Steve Buscemi, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally
Credits: Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, script by Adam Sandler and Robert Smigel. A Sony Animation release.
Running time: 1:29