UK Release Date: 27th July 2018
Runtime: 97 minutes
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Writer: Genndy Tartakovsky, Michael McCullers
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kathryn Hahn, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, Jim Gaffigan, Keegan-Michael Key, David Spade
Synopsis: In an attempt to give her father a break, Dracula’s daughter books a cruise for the vampire hotelier and all of his monster buddies.
The surest sign that a franchise has run out of ideas is when it takes its established characters and sends them on holiday. That brings us neatly to Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation – a movie that shows how this mildly entertaining franchise has finally overreached itself and outstayed its welcome on the big screen. Dexter’s Laboratory creator Genndy Tartakovsky‘s third film is an adventure bereft of ideas that largely cruises by, if you’ll pardon the pun, on its colourful visuals and sense of silliness.
This time around, Dracula (Adam Sandler) is starting to feel lonely and tired of showing his hotel guests a good time, without ever having a partner to share his own good times with. His daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and her husband Johnny (Andy Samberg) decide to help him out by booking a spot on a monster-only cruise trip so that he can have a break from the hotel. Initially against the idea of a cruise, Drac’s tune changes when he meets the captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn) and feels an instant spark of attraction. Unfortunately, the audience soon learns that Ericka is not as friendly to monsters as she seems and is in fact related to notorious monster hunter Van Helsing.
There are scattered fun ideas littered throughout Hotel Transylvania 3 and the central concept of its Universal Monsters homage allows for a selection of very funny sight gags, including one scene in which a Chupacabra is presented with a goat in a cocktail glass. The holiday concept, however, just serves as an admission that the well of ideas has run dry, from the disappointing use of Ericka as a villain to the tired romantic plot and the finale set within the city of Atlantis – played as a monster incarnation of the Las Vegas strip.
The same lack of invention that leads Hotel Transylvania 3 to struggle on a plot level also applies to the characters. Drac, still the least annoying character Adam Sandler has played for about 20 years, is more front and centre than he has ever been before, with entertaining supporting players completely sidelined. Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon‘s werewolf couple have a potentially interesting subplot in which they are able to put their litter of pups into a kids’ club, but they are thrown aside at the midpoint and their story is never picked up again, but for a throwaway final gag. The same is true of the other colourful monsters created in the previous two films.
However, it is worth saying that the movie almost saves itself with its finale. It’s a musical face-off pitting the evils of EDM against the goofy charm of cheesy pop, culminating in a declaration of ultimate power for one song that I won’t spoil because it’s a lovely surprise. Unfortunately, this all comes a little too late to save a movie that, despite its vivid animation, feels oddly colourless in its storytelling. This franchise has been enjoyable up until now, but this one should hammer the final nail in the coffin of this particular vampire and his friends.
Pop or Poop?
Given the glut of unimaginative animated movies that are tossed into cinemas every year, the Hotel Transylvania franchise has always seemed like a pleasant blast of colour and fun. This third movie, however, has entirely run out of ideas and has no clue what to do with its interesting characters.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.