×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation’

The third and worst entry in Adam Sandler's animated monster series boards a hotel on water and sinks below the waves.

Director:
Genndy Tartakovsky
With:
Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Jim Gaffigan, Kathryn Hahn, Asher Blinkoff, Chris Parnell, Joe Jonas, Chrissy Teigen, Mel Brooks.
Release Date:
Jul 13, 2018

Rated PG  1 hour 37 minutes

In the first “Hotel Transylvania,” Count Dracula’s refusal to conform to the clichés of vampire legend (“I don’t say ‘bleh, bleh, bleh'”) was a mantra for the whole movie, a fast-paced and joke-filled riff on monster mythos that, in its best moments, played like a self-contained Looney Tunes version of “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.” After that mildly pleasant surprise, the sequel mostly abandoned the monster hotel conceit in favor of a lackadaisical venture into the human world and Drac’s vain attempt to coax fangs out of his half-human grandson. Now “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” by far the worst of the series, spends virtually no time in the hotel and runs out of commentary on classic monsters, despite renewing the rivalry between Dracula and the vampire slayer Van Helsing. In the dead of summer, younger audiences won’t likely care that it’s blah, blah, blah, and it seems destined to drain another $150 million out of parents’ pockets.

There’s a sliver of cleverness in the opening sequence, which flashes back to 1897, when Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) was the young and determined Wile E. Coyote to Drac’s elusive Road Runner. Blueprint after blueprint, gadget after gadget, the vampire hunter was always easily thwarted by Drac (Adam Sandler), who combines a sixth sense with eternal good fortune. Cut to the present day as their paths cross once again on a cruise ship specifically catering to monsters, a “hotel on water” that’s as close to justifying the title as the film ever gets. Drac’s daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) plans the ocean getaway as a surprise for her father, who’s forever the host and never the guest, and the entire Drac Pack comes along, including Frankenstein (Kevin James), the werewolf Wayne (Steve Buscemi), the mummy Murray (Keegan-Michael Key), and the invisible man Griffin (David Spade), as well as other family members and creatures.

Once on board, the heartsick Drac “zings” on the fetching Ericka (Kathryn Hahn), the ship’s captain, who happens to be Van Helsing’s wicked great-granddaughter. Below deck, the original Van Helsing still lives as part-man/part-machine, like a rickety Immortan Joe, and he hatches an apocalyptic scheme to kill off all the monsters once the ship reaches its final destination. But in the meantime, Ericka can’t help trying to kill the oblivious, moony-eyed Drac herself at every opportunity, even though it turns her into a foolish Wile E. Coyote type, too. Mavis has her suspicions about Ericka’s intentions (monsters are only supposed to “zing” once, and that happened already with her late mother), but the Count’s sitcom cluelessness belies his famous powers of seduction.

Director Genndy Tartakovsky, who has helmed all three “Hotel Transylvania” films, is a gifted animator with an affinity for elongated figures, sharp angles, and expressive features, and he likes to keep the gags coming at a breathless pace. But it’s the screenplay for “Hotel Transylvania 3,” which he wrote with veteran comedy scribe Michael McCullers (“The Boss Baby,” “Baby Mama”), where he falls woefully short on inspiration. The A-plot hijinks of Drac and the Van Helsings are as inspired as the film gets, and that cat-and-mouse game fritters out by the halfway mark. The gallery of dire B-plots barely has anything to do with monsters at all: Mavis’ son Dennis sneaks their giant dog on board in a trench coat, Frankenstein nurses a gambling problem, Wayne and his wife try to relax after dropping dozens of their rowdy pups at daycare, and Drac’s ancient father (Mel Brooks) struts around in a skimpy mankini.

Tartakovsky’s instincts are to keep the action moving quickly and let one piece of kid-friendly slapstick tumble into the next, but when the jokes are this consistently uninspired, it doesn’t matter how fast they’re dispensed. The problem with the “Hotel Transylvania” franchise is that all the conflict was settled after the first one: Mavis was once a sheltered kid longing to see the world and now she has. Her human husband Johnny (Andy Samberg) was once a backpacking hippie who wandered into monster land and now he’s one of the gang. Monsters and humans were once natural adversaries and now they’re not. And that’s to say nothing of the hotel in Transylvania, which barely gets 15 minutes in the last two movies total.

That leaves “Hotel Transylvania 3” to look too much like another lackadaisical gathering of Sandler and his frequent on-screen chums, like a PG-rated “Grown Ups” at sea. They seem like the ones taking the vacation, and it’s audiences who are left to pick up the tab.

RELATED CONTENT:

Film Review: 'Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation'

Reviewed at AMC River East 21, Chicago, June 7, 2018. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 97 MIN.

Production: (Animated) A Columbia Pictures release of a Sony Pictures Animation production. Producer: Michelle Murdocca.

Crew: Director: Genndy Tartakovsky. Screenplay: Tartakovsky, Michael McCullers. Camera (color). Editor: Joyce Arrastia. Music: Mark Mothersbaugh.

With: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Jim Gaffigan, Kathryn Hahn, Asher Blinkoff, Chris Parnell, Joe Jonas, Chrissy Teigen, Mel Brooks.

More Film

  • Inside Goop's Wellness Summit With Gwyneth

    Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop Summit Proves Hollywood Retirement Is Working for Her

    Across the country on Saturday, movie theaters sold over $12 million in tickets to “Avengers: Endgame,” helping it amass $771 million in the U.S. since its release in April. On the same day, in a stunning urban greenhouse complex in DTLA, the film’s supporting star Gwyneth Paltrow counted tickets of her own — pricey, perk-loaded [...]

  • Johnny Depp

    Johnny Depp's Ex-Lawyers Claim He Owes $350,000

    Johnny Depp was hit with a $350,000 lawsuit on Monday from a law firm that claims he has not paid his bills. Depp retained Buckley LLP in the fall of 2017 to sue his former entertainment law firm, Bloom Hergott LLP, which he accused of pocketing $30 million in fees without a written agreement. Three [...]

  • Keanu Reeves stars as 'John Wick'

    'John Wick 4' Confirmed With a 2021 Release Date

    John Wick will be back in exactly two years and a day. Lionsgate announced Monday that it has scheduled “John Wick 4” for May 21, 2021. The studio made the announcement via a text message to fans: “You have served. You will be of service. John Wick: Chapter 4 is coming – May 21, 2021.” [...]

  • Krysanne Katsoolis Sets Up Viewpark With

    Krysanne Katsoolis Sets Up Viewpark With $200 Million Fund

    Veteran film industry executive Krysanne Katsoolis has launched Viewpark, which will finance, package and release high-end film and TV content. Viewpark has partnered with former Wall Street executive Keith Price’s Obsidian Asset Management to create a multi-million dollar fund for the production and marketing of its slate, Katsoolis told Variety. Obsidian, based in London and [...]

  • Elle FanningChopard Trophee dinner, 72nd Cannes

    Elle Fanning Faints at Cannes Dinner Party

    Elle Fanning, a member of this year’s Cannes jury, had a brief scare Monday night when she fainted at the Chopard Trophee dinner. Festival director Thierry Fremaux had just introduced actor Francois Civil onstage when Fanning, star of “The Beguiled” and “Maleficent,” collapsed and fell off her chair nearby. Fanning was sitting at a table [...]

  • 'Frankie' Review: Ira Sachs' American Version

    Cannes Film Review: 'Frankie'

    As a filmmaker, Ira Sachs, the director of “Love Is Strange,” “Little Men,” and (his masterpiece) “Keep the Lights On,” is like a flower that keeps sprouting new tendrils, growing ever more beautiful and complicated and delicate. His new movie, “Frankie,” may the closest that anyone has come to making an American version of an [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content