Hotel Transylvania is again open for business in this somewhat amusing, but not quite funny enough, sequel to the 2012 animated hit. Since we last saw Dracula (voice of Adam Sandler), he has opened his monstrous hotel, if not his heart, to humans. He still thinks monsters are superior, but he grudgingly allows his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) to marry Jonathan (Andy Samberg), a chill Californian dude. A year later, Mavis gives birth to a cute, curly topped redhead with no fangs named Dennis (Asher Blinkoff). As birthdays fly by, Dennis remains fangless, and continues to look and act more human than vampire. If Dennis doesn’t produce any fangs by his fifth birthday then he never will, which is just fine with his mom and dad, but not with “vampa” Drac. Adding to Drac’s dilemma is the fact that Mavis wants to move to California to keep Dennis safe from the hotel’s well-meaning but menacing monsters. With time running out, Drac, along with some of his ghoulish pals, takes Dennis on a road trip to some of his old haunts in an effort to bring out the inner-vampire he hopes resides inside his grandson.
This second go-round certainly looks great: Returning director Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory) fills the frames with moody, eye-popping visuals worthy of Pixar; some of the best gags even appear off-center, like a skeleton at a costume party eating fruit that plops from mouth to midsection to floor. The voice cast are also uniformly fine. In addition to Sandler, Gomez, and Samberg, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, Keegan-Michael Key, David Spade, Molly Shannon, and Fran Drescher flesh out their thinly written supporting roles and add some nice comic touches with their instantly recognizable voices. And Mel Brooks brings fresh blood to the proceedings as Vlad, Drac’s human-averse father. Yet the film’s major flaw is its anemic script, written by Sandler and Saturday Night Live scribe Robert Smigel. While some of the gags, like the one with the skeleton, hit, most of them simply fall flat and evaporate like a vampire on a sunny day. None of this will probably matter to the target audience of kids, who will no doubt enjoy their stay at Hotel Transylvania. Their parents, however, will likely check out early.