Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)

(Video on Demand, February 2016) In developing a sequel, there’s a difficult balance to strike between offering more of the same, and offering just a little more than the original to satisfy. Hotel Transylvania 2, for all of its faults, actually manages to find this elusive balance: By moving forward the story a few years later, and by focusing the themes of parental anxieties onto another generation, it refreshes its own themes while still offering many of the same attributes that made the first film a success. Adam Sandler once again reprises his unusually sympathetic vampire-dad character, now faced with the possibility that his grandson may not actually be a vampire. Various hijinks ensue, bouncing back and forth between Transylvania and California in a world that is obviously not ours given its broad acceptance of real monsters. The set pieces are lively and if the film does seem to lose its way during an unremarkable third act, Hotel Transylvania 2 gives audiences what they expected, and what they’re ready to accept. The series remains firmly ensconced in the second tier of animated features, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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