This sequel to the surprisingly endearing 2015 original was unfortunately dead on arrival with critics and audiences alike, but it’s a pleasant surprise. The teenaged characters are likable and well-played by a trio of charming actors (Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor and Caleel Harris), and they’re surrounded by solid comedic talent from more experienced veterans like Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ken Jeong and Chris Parnell. It’s a shame that the movie doesn’t directly follow the original’s established storyline, but that’s out of director Ari Sandel’s hands: In its stead, we’re giving something of a retread between it and 2006’s “Monster House,” and while it’s not exactly original it’s a lot of fun nevertheless. Some bits could have been expanded or retooled (like more information on main baddie Slappy’s rather inconsistent supernatural powers), but as it is there’s plenty here to enjoy for fans of the original movie, the book series or the 1990s television series.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)