Friday, July 20, 2018

Movie Review: Hotel Transylvania 3 - Summer Vacation

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun threequel
Cons: Still really aimed at kids
The Bottom Line:
Monsters on a cruise
Enjoyable story, laughs
Mostly for the kids

Monstrously Fun Vacation

While watching the Hotel Transylvania movies had always been on my radar, I was motivated to get them watched earlier this year when I saw that Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation was coming out this summer.  While the movies are just okay, I went ahead and saw the latest in the franchise in the theater this week.  While it still has its flaws, I think it is the best to date.

As the movie opens, Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) and his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) are trying to get another wedding in their hotel off the ground.  Through it, Dracula’s loneliness comes out.  However, Mavis misinterprets what is happening as a sign of stress from working too hard, so she plans a wonderful surprise for him – a vacation on a cruise ship.  While Dracula isn’t thrilled with the idea, he goes along with it because of the potential for family bonding time.

The entire gang is on the ship, but it isn’t too long before Dracula’s attention is captured by Captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn).  She may be human, but Dracula definitely has zinged.  Is there such a thing as two zings in a lifetime?  Unfortunately, there is a more sinister plot on the ship.  Will any of them survive?

My complaints with the first two movies have involved the very uneven pacing.  This movie actually does much better at it.  Yes, there is some set up, but it isn’t as drawn out as it has been in previous movies.  Likewise, when we hit the climax, the movie winds up pretty quickly without an overdrawn coda.

The plot itself is pretty predictable.  Even if the latest teaser hadn’t spoiled much of the plot, it would be pretty easy to figure out where everything is going.  Not that it is a bad thing by itself.

Watching the film, I still can’t help but think the franchise is aimed mostly at kids.  Again, there is nothing wrong with that, but it does mean I don’t find many of the jokes funny.  There were a few moments, especially the climax, that were hilarious and had the small audience I saw the film with (it was a weekday night) laughing loudly.  But the jokes still weren’t quite enough to distract us from knowing where the story is going.  And there is one scene that was actually much funnier in the previews than the cut version they gave us in the film.

The animation continues to be highly stylized.  That allows them to get away with even more unbelievable jokes since this clearly isn’t a realistic world.  The voice cast is still clearly having fun, and their enthusiasm comes through in the film.

Kids, especially those who enjoy the franchise, will want to see Hotel Transylvania 3.  If you are only a casual fan of the franchise, you’ll enjoy this one, too.  But there is nothing here that will change anyone’s mind about the films.

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