Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation seems to follow the same formula as it’s enjoyable predecessors: “How much do these kids really love Adam Sandler as Dracula?” Say what you want about Adam Sandler, it’s clear he knows how to get a rise of his target media: Kids. I loved both Grown Ups, Click, Happy Gilmore and Don’t Mess With The Zohan films growing up and after rewatching them through an adults eyes, sure it doesn’t carry the same shin it once did but I’d be lying if I still didn’t find enjoyment in them. I’m the furthest thing from a comedy snob, but between me growing up and Adam Sandler’s denial to change, his shine rubbed off as a comedian.

Then came the Hotel Transylvania franchise, which saw Adam Sandler voicing one of the most menacing monsters in all of cinema: Dracula. The first two instalments, in particular the original was a nice surprise and somewhat rejuvenated the career of Adam Sandler.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer vacation follows a very lonely Dracula, especially after a wedding at the hotel. Thankfully, Mavis (Gomez) overhears her father in a somewhat sad but funny scene attempting to to find love on an Internet dating service, and comes up with an idea: a monster cruise.

With the third part that seems like the end to a better than average trilogy, director/animation veteran Genndy Tartakovsky brings back the rogues gallery of monsters from the previous two films and sets them all on a vacation, bringing a new adventure to the big screen. Aided with a co-written script with Michael McCullers ( Austin Powers, The Boss Baby), Tartakovsky closes out the Transylvania story with a respectable installment, bringing the arcs of the characters we’ve gotten to know to a complete circle.

I envy animation directors, especially when done correctly. To animate such an iconic character as Dracula and represent him correctly while blending in mannerisms that Adam Sandler does when he is physically acting, gives a refreshing 3-movie outlook on our favourite bloodsucking monster. The first time I ever seen that in an animation film, was Will Smith in “Shark Tale”, and as technology advanced so do the mannerisms and intricate details. Genndy Tartakovsky’s animation style is reminiscent of the animation style in the Looney Tunes, with levels of physical comedy with some quips that’ll make the parents that begrudgingly came in order to make their kids stop talking for an hour and thirty minutes. Through the animation, the characters and set designs pop off the big screen and the larger than life characters only add to it.

Just like any other film targeting children, the jokes are hit and miss for the most part. But for the most part, I believe that the film crew did their job. Don’t ask me, ask the children in my theater who were having an absolute ball,screeching and huffing and puffing, eating up every gag from the not so terrifying monsters. The film pays homage in almost every scene with noticeable callbacks to classic Hollywood films, in particular to monster movies in the “golden age”of cinema. There are only so many monster-centric jokes to be made before they lose it’s bite(no pun intended), and the movie ultimately becomes stale.Once we get to the final act of the film, consisting of a battle between infamous vampire hunter Val Helsing and Dracula, the movie plays it extremely safe in the way the action plays out- leading to an underwhelming finale.

The strength of this series lies almost entirely in its ensemble of voice actors, but rather than continuing to showcase the whole cast, the film hones into Dracula’s suddenly burgeoning love life that the cast members who provided the best moments in the previous films particularly Steve Buscemi, Keegan-Michael Key, and Kevin James, are sidelined to make it more of a romance film.

The Hotel Transylvania franchise is the little engine that could, the first movie felt like a reach at a franchise from Sony, in particular to match the domination of Pixar and herculean-esque franchise such as Despicable Me.The harmlessness of the franchise makes it special, never trying to push an emotional message ( although to it’s credit, each film does provide important lessons effortlessly), makes it perfectly fine it’s nature; albeit a tier below it’s contemporaries.

Grade:B-

Ananth Para
paramana@mcmaster.ca

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