Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
Fans of the previous Hotel Transylvania films are going to like this quite a bit.
A charming, harmless animated film that has plenty of visual charm and comedic content for the kids, and enough humor for the adults to keep everyone entertained.
This isn’t groundbreaking cinema, but honestly - it really doesn’t have to be.
Clearly if the first two films have driven you crazy, Hotel Transylvania 3 is not going to move that needle for you in any way, shape, or form.
Look, I’m not going to argue the point that sending any group of characters on a summer vacation is about the laziest concept someone can come up with. Also, NO MORE MACARENA JOKES.
You’ve reached Adam Sandler fatigue and/or simply avoid animated kids’ movies altogether.
The enduring animated franchise, Hotel Transylvania, stands as the only film commodity that places Adam Sandler in theaters nowadays, and even then, we hear him and do not see him. If Sandler has become something of box office poison in recent years, signing that lucrative Netflix deal a number of years ago, his voice works just fine in the goofy, bend-over-backwards charm of Hotel Transylvania 3, tagged as Summer Vacation for this third entry in the series.
We open with Dracula (Sandler) defeating the monster hunter, Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan), in Budapest, circa 1897, atop a train. Then we shift to present day, where the vampiric patriarch is being swept up on a summer vacation to The Bermuda Triangle, with a cruise over to Atlantis, arranged by his doting daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez). An array of famous monsters, and Mavis’ husband Johnny (Andy Samberg) and young son Dennis (Asher Blinkoff), are bounding out the door of the family-run hotel, with Dracula mournful that he is vacationing alone.
Once they depart, he meets Ericka (Kathryn Hahn), the ship’s captain and he quickly develops a crush on her. Our charming Prince of Darkness begins wondering if his heart could ever “zing” again. (Apparently, in this cinematic universe, you only find true love once in a lifetime.) With Dracula swiping right on “Zingr” (ugh) and trying to understand feelings he never knew he could have again, Mavis begins discovering that there may be some strange things happening on the cruise ship.
Adventure ensues, and Dracula’s friends and family soon find themselves in a series of unfortunate events no one anticipated or ever saw coming.
Anyone who has seen, well, any movie ever made, can see right through where this is all headed. With that said, director Genndy Tartakovsky completes his Hotel Transylvania trilogy by crafting a visually impressive film, with a fetching wit, and an expediency that makes this all a breeze to sit through.
With a bare-bones script to work from however, written by Tartakovsky and Michael McCullers (The Boss Baby, Austin Powers) this feels more like an extended episode of a television series than a feature-length film.
One thought that kept recurring to me, as I watched Summer Vacation, is that I really have no connection with any of these characters. My mind turned to other animated franchises: Shrek, Toy Story, Despicable Me, The Incredibles, for example, and even if the movies have not been consistently great, there’s a genuine tethering to the main characters, especially when it comes to their quirks, traits, and mannerisms. Other than Sandler’s exaggerated accent and articulation, maybe the biggest deficiency among these movies is that the names Mavis, Johnny, and the representations of some of cinema’s most iconic creatures never sticks.
Be that as it may, it is hard to throw hatred towards Hotel Transylvania 3. The premise, a summer vacation, is Lazy Screenwriting 101 and the movie is rather slight. And yet, Tartakovsky spins a series of wacky adventures into some loose and haphazard comedic scenes and then wraps up just as you expect it will.
And with no originality to be found, I nonetheless smiled quite often. I had fun with Hotel Transylvania 3, and just could not muster enough energy to care about the struggles the movie has in getting across a 97-minute finish line.
Even if we must suffer through a “Macarena” gag in 2018.
CAST & CREW
Featuring the Voices of: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Jim Gaffigan, Kathryn Hahn, Asher Blinkoff, Chris Parnell, Joe Jonas, Chrissy Teigen, Mel Brooks.
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Written by: Michael McCullers, Genndy Tartakovsky
Based on characters created by Todd Durham
Release Date: July 13, 2018
Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Releasing