Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

As a child, it was almost impossible to get my parents to take me to see kid’s films. They’d sit there, roll their eyes, and say “maybe.” Of course, “maybe” meant no. At age ten, I was finally old enough to wander off to the movie theater on my own, and that’s how it all began.

Now, that film criticism is my game; I was looking forward to taking my kid to see Incredible 2, but then my immediate future hit me like a ton of bricks—a half a dozen trailers of kiddie films and that little voice next to me saying, “you know you’re taking me to see that.” Kill me now.

Here is the first of those films, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation features Adam Sandler and the Happy Madison crew. I will say the big studios at least have the decency to sprinkle little moments for the adults in hopes of keeping them awake. All the studios, except Sony.

Writer/director Genndy Tartakovsky and co-writer Michael McCullers take the helm telling the continuing adventure of Dracula (Adam Sandler), the proprietor of the hugely popular resort for monsters, Hotel Transylvania. Running the hotel with his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and son-in-law Johnny (Andy Samberg), things couldn’t be better for their business.

“…pulls Dracula away from the hotel, to relax on a vacation cruise…a hotel on the sea…”

As things go, things may be going well on the outside, but for Dracula, there’s an emptiness left from the passing of Mavis’ mother long ago. Mavis is concerned her father spends too much time running the hotel; he’s become a workaholic. Determined, Mavis pulls Dracula away from the hotel, to relax on a vacation cruise, which the film points out is a hotel on the sea. Of course, everyone working at the hotel comes along with them on the cruise heading for Atlantis.

This installment of Hotel Transylvania centers on Dracula finding love. There’s this idea called the “zing,” the monster’s version of “love at first sight.” Zing rules state a monster can only zing once and Dracula zinged it was with Mavis’ mother. But Dracula inexplicably zings again for the ship’s human captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). But zings have its complications, Ericka is the granddaughter of monster hunter, Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan). This “cruise to Atlantis” she concocted is really a trap to eliminate every last monster, specifically Dracula.

Now you have to have a few sub-plots. There is Mavis’ frustration her father, Dracula, is not taking the point of the cruise seriously. And Dracula’s grandson Dennis (Asher Blinoff) and werewolf friend Winnie (Sadie Sandler) trying to pass their overgrown pet bulldog as a passenger on the no-pets cruise. All needed for an endless litany of adorable monster gags.

“…an Adam Sandler film for kids. Cursing and vulgarities are replaced by wackiness and farts.”

There’s really only a few things to say about Hotel Transylvania. First, it’s a kid’s film. I have a kid, and yes, kids still laugh at everything. My kid, the self-proclaimed junior critic, loved the film (10/10) and she is very much entitled to her immature, little opinion. I, on the other hand, very much tolerated Hotel Transylvania. It’s pretty much an Adam Sandler film for kids. Cursing and vulgarities are replaced by wackiness and farts.

Yes, I laughed at the barrage of silliness. I may be an adult, but I’m still human. Sandler’s cast of usuals returns to service said gags including David Spade, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, and Keven James. Chris Parnell is a joy and delight as the entire cruise staff. Nothing is really wrong with the film. It’s absolutely for kids, but much of my time was spent glancing at my watch. You’ll tolerate the film until you realize you’re going to buy it a few months from now.

I had one personal qualm with Hotel Transylvania 3, this concept of the “zing” just didn’t sit well. Admittedly, I’m with my tween daughter on the cusp of becoming a hormone-raged teen. When Dracula zings for the woman intent on killing him, he becomes blinded to her murder attempts and tries to change her. Now here’s me having a talk with my kid about love being both emotional and intellectual and if your boyfriend wants to kill you, you need to call me, and I’ll get him first. Look, I get it, it’s a silly story about the violent history of human/monster relations, but it would nice if a kid’s film could help a parent out.

Coming full circle, I have five more films coming at me, including Small Foot and The Nutcracker. I’ll use these opportunities as currency for future favors from my kid. I’m such a good parent.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018) Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. Writer Michael McCullers, Genndy Tartakovsky. Starring Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Jim Gaffigan, Kathryn Hahn, Chris Parnell.

6 out of 10 stars

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