Genndy Tartakovsky’s ‘Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation’ falls within the Looney Tunes brand of entertainment – extremely fun, but only for kids ages 12 and below.
At this point, it’s hardly a surprise that one of Sony’s biggest cash cows, Hotel Transylvania, breaks into the elite status of animation and earns itself a threequel. The studio breathes life into the franchise by taking the crew out of the hotel for a summer vacation… in the Bermuda Triangle, no less. The idea itself could be a riff from Sandler’s vacation-themed classics or one of those sitcom filler episodes, so one can expect the common denominator – it’s funny at the moment but completely dispensable in the long run.
The organizer of the said Atlantic cruise getaway is Mavis (Selena Gomez) as she feels that her dad Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) seems to be stressed from his hotel duties and therefore, must be badly needing a break. But the real reason for Drac’s loneliness is that he’s been single for decades now and he’s hoping for the ‘zing’ that he once had with his deceased wife. In case you missed it, a ‘zing’ is what we call ‘love at first sight’ for us humans, only it’s irrefutably claimed as ‘true love’ for monsters.
If in the first film, Drac disapproves of her daughter Mavis’ relationship with her soon-to-be human husband Jonathan (Andy Samberg), the roles are reversed here as Mavis senses that there’s something wrong with his dad’s new ‘zing’ – cruise captain Ericka Van Helsing (Kathryn Hahn). She’s right. It does not take a genius to deduce that with a surname like that, Ericka must come from a bloodline of monster hunters.
True enough, Ericka spends most of the film faking her affections for him when in reality, she’s plotting to kill him. There’s an elaborately choreographed scene where Drac and his green blob friend performs a 24K Magic dance routine, oblivious to the fact that Ericka has been trying to kill him. It’s an old trick borrowed from the Looney Tunes book but it’s still amusing nonetheless.
But then Hotel Transylvania 3 in its entirety, is mostly a succession of visual gags from thankless supporting characters who contribute little to plot development. Nor do they barely get a decent subplot at the very least. Werewolf Wayne (Steve Buscemi) and his wife (Molly Shannon) enjoys a time off from baby-sitting their chaotic litter, Frankenstein (Kevin James) does some gambling, Murray the Mummy (Keegan Michael-Key) and Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade) act as Drac’s wingmen, and so on. Most of the gags here play on the notion that these monsters engage in human activities too, but in their own monstrous way. It quickly runs dry and feels repetitive since these are already shown in previous installments. Three films in, but the franchise still wastes the potential to harvest other stories from its wide array of cast.
This still means good news for the younger generation as reprising director and co-writer Genndy Tartakovsky bombards the kids with sensory overload to glue their attention to the screen. His direction spews of visual creativeness – not in a game-changing, world-building sense, but enough to occasionally mask how uninspired the story actually is. By the time it reaches the climax, the film showcases a hyperactive DJ/dance battle featuring a singing Kraken (Joe Jonas). It quickly gets too loud and annoying and before adults completely walk out of the theater, the song Macarena is played as a peace offering. The film’s zaniness has reached a new level yet considering the whole franchise is founded on absurdity itself, I’m giving it a pass.
Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation gives too much where it needed less and feels lacking where it needed more. The father-daughter dynamic which has been the strongest emotional core of Transylvania franchise is underserved in favor of an uncompelling romantic subplot. There’s a harmless message of embracing diversity that gets lost in the noise of visual gags. How can something so elaborate feel so dull?
Kids will always go for the familiar faces, regardless if the film keeps on recycling jokes. Not the same for the rest of the general audience though.
2.5 out of 5 stars
Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, written by Michael McCullers and Genndy Tartakovsky
Cast: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, David Spade, Steve Buscemi, Keegan-Michael Key, Molly Shannon, Fran Drescher, Kathryn Hahn, Jim Gaffigan, Mel Brooks, Asher Blinkoff, Sadie Sandler, Genndy Tartakovsky, Chrissy Teigen, Joe Jonas, Alison Hammond, Chris Parnell, Joe Whyte
Run time: 97 minutes