There are very few animated films today that can stay consistently decent in quality, especially when it comes to its eventual sequels. Back in 2012, Adam Sandler and friends partnered with Sony Pictures Animation for Hotel Transylvania. It had a voice cast stuffed with talent including Sandler, Kevin James, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Cee Lo Green and David Spade to name a few. The film was received positively for the most part, which lit the way for future sequels and a Netflix series. Six years later, we have arrived at Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation.
For those who haven’t seen these films yet, the overall story revolves around a magic hotel run by Dracula, and his daughter Mavis. The hotel was made to be a safe place for monsters to relax and have fun without worrying about human interference. Dracula raised his daughter as a single father after the passing of his wife and made it his mission in life to keep his daughter safe no matter what. Dracula’s friends are none other than Frankenstein, The Warewolf, The Invisible Man, and The Mummy. Together this band of friendly monsters go on strange adventures that for the most part are pretty fun and enjoyable to watch play out.
In this installment of the series, Mavis decides to plan a cruise for her family and friends to reconnect and have a break from the busy hotel life. Dracula is less than enthused to leave the hotel, but quickly changes his mind when he meets the cruise’s captain Erika. For the first time since the loss of his one true love, Dracula is feeling something for Erika, and wrestles with the idea of being prepared to love another woman. Little does the group know that Erika is hiding a deadly secret that could hurt Dracula and his friends.
All of these films share one commonality, that being a kind of emotional center that humanizes a cast of monsters. The first film shows Dracula as a sad single father with his daughter trying to learn how to be the best he can be for her. The second film has Mavis and her new husband having a baby and how Dracula adjusts to being a grandfather. And this new film is all about love and if Dracula can gain the strength to move on. For a children’s film, these are surprisingly deep subjects which is why most adults enjoyed these films. And instead of making these subjects go right over children’s heads, the films do a great job of explaining these subjects in a clear and relatable way.
There is a combination of elements that made this film and its predecessors what they are. All three are directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, the animation director best known for shows like Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory. Tartakovsky brings his unique art style and talent of balancing comedy and drama to these films. The animation is truly some of the best looking that I’ve seen in recent years and continues to improve as each movie comes out. The other element is Adam Sandler, which I know isn’t everyone’s favorite actor in Hollywood. You can say a lot about Sandler’s acting and voices, but his roster of friends that follow him into any project he picks is impressive and provide for a believable dynamic between the characters.
These films are not flawless of course. Whenever you get to the third film in a series, there’s bound to be a slight decline in some aspect of the film. The story of Summer Vacation was very predictable and not terribly exciting. The big reveal of the film is basically given to you on a silver platter in the first five minutes of the film. The comedy was a little less potent than in the previous two films. The music was also a bit much in certain sections of the film. There was a theme of DJ techno music all throughout (I guess because they were on a cruise?) which was all of the songs that were popular about two summers ago.
Putting Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation next to other animated films in the past year or two, I still believe that it’s a decent and enjoyable film that the whole family will like. It has the silly humor and goofy characters that make the kids laugh and it has a story that is both relatable and interesting to people of all ages. If you like Adam Sandler’s movies like Grown Ups, this movie is like an animated version with spooky monsters instead of people. It’s by no means a fantastic film, but for the third in the series it’s better than it should be.