The Movie Guru: ‘Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation’ is silly but sweet
The Movie Guru
‘Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation’
Rating: PG for some action and rude humor.
Written by: Michael McCullers and Genndy Tartakovsky, based on characters created by Todd Durham.
Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kathryn Hahn, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, Mel Brooks and more.
Guru’s Grade: Two stars.
The “Hotel Transylvania” series is shaping up to be the next “Ice Age.”
Whether or not that sentence strikes you as incredibly ominous will probably depend on whether or not you have young children in your life. If you do, then you’ve watched far too many animated shows already to be scared of a series that is increasingly slapstick with each installment, yet still holds on to a surprising amount of positivity and pro-family sentimentality. It’s too much of a stretch to call the movies good, really, but if you know what you’re getting into, then it’s also hard to actually call them bad.
In “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” the multi-generational crew of monsters from the previous films have decided to take a vacation by going on a monsters-only cruise. Naturally, this leads to several complications, including a sinister secret and Dracula’s first plunge back into the dating pool after the long-ago death of his wife.
In some ways, that sentence makes the entire movie sound more serious than it is. As with the “Ice Age” movies, the series has become more and more absurd with each installment. The cartoons lean more heavily into pure slapstick than any adult comedy I’ve ever seen, occasionally leading to mildly clever sequences, but the goal is always silliness. Still, that’s not always a bad thing — a kid sitting behind me in the screening approved wholeheartedly, declaring it the “funniest” of the “Hotel Transylvania” movies.
Movie with Heart
There’s also something of a message, which here seems to be “it’s OK to find love twice.” It’s an oddly specific message, at least for the bulk of children’s programming, but the fact that it seems to be aimed at both parents and kids is a thoughtful touch. There’s also a continuation of the overall themes of the series, which is “change can be good” and “family is really important.” Simplistic, maybe, but hard to argue with.
It helps that the movie has so much heart. Adam Sandler’s presence in a movie is usually a sign that it’s going to end up deeply annoying, but the “Hotel Transylvania” movies focus on highlighting the characters’ love for each other at every turn. Here, the power of family and friendship really is enough to save the day (and, coincidentally, my tolerance for Sandler).
Of course, there are some less forgivable aspects to the movie. There was no reason to subject the world to the sight of Dracula’s elderly father in a speedo, an image that I’m sure will haunt me for awhile. Also, there were far too many fart jokes in the movie, though I’m sure any 4-year-olds who were in the audience would strongly disagree with me.
Still, it’s hardly a surprise for this particular genre of movie. And honestly, unless an asteroid shows up, I’m comfortable accepting “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” for what it is.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.