Even hotel owners need a holiday. At least, that’s the idea for Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, the third – and, sadly, the weakest – in the hit series starring the vocal talents of Adam Sandler as Dracula. Stepping away from the monsters-only hotel that he runs, the infamous vampire is given a surprise treat by his daughter Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez): a family holiday on a cruise ship that tours such fables sights as the Bermuda Triangle and the lost city of Atlantis.
Needless to say, all the extended family come along for the ride on this “hotel on water”: Drac’s father Vlad (Mel Brooks), Mavis’ partner Johnny (Andy Samberg), Frankenstein (Kevin James), the invisible Griffin (David Spade) and werewolves Wayne and Wanda (Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon), who amusingly manage to find a kids’ club on board for their insanely large brood of cubs. There’s even room for the return of shape-shifting green monster Blobby.
The plot sees Dracula fall for Ericka (Kathryn Hahn), the ship’s human captain. After the passing of his wife, he never thought he could fall in love – or “zing”, as he calls it – twice. But here he is, smitten, barely able to utter a word in front of her. Little does he know that Ericka is actually the great-granddaughter of Dracula’s old vampire-hunting foe, Abraham Van Helsing, who is still alive – sort of – with his head attached to a robot body. Currently stowed in the ship’s basement, Abraham forces his descendant to plot Dracula’s doom – and she’s soon lacing his food with garlic oil (which only seems to cause a bad case of wind). Love is blind, of course, and Dracula fails to see that Ericka is up to something.
Written and directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, who helmed the previous two movies, the result is a rather cut-price comic experience that borrows from the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies but never reaches those heights. Sandler’s Dracula is highly watchable, but the others characters – particularly Vlad – don’t really get enough screen time.
Like the DJ battle at the end, where Johnny and Abraham spin tunes ranging from The Beach Boys to “The Macarena”, the film takes a decidedly scattergun approach to its storytelling. There’s no question that it’s inventive in places, but in a desperate attempt to appeal to all ages, it ultimately offers up a very random adventure. After this, it might be best if Sandler’s ‘Drac pack’ took a permanent holiday from our screens.
Is this a Good Movie for Kids?
Yes, although the appeal is definitely more for younger viewers. Simple visual gags and puns will amuse the under-10s, while the cartoon monsters aren’t really scary. Although the messages of tolerance and ‘love conquers all’ are well-intentioned, it’s unlikely that older family members will take much from a film that doesn’t really harness its ideas fully.