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Movie Review: “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

Theatrical Release: 7/13/2018

Theatrical Release: 7/13/2018

Synopsis

Over the course of history, the Van Helsing family has hunted monsters. More recently, Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) has had his sights set on Dracula (Adam Sandler) and his friends. Unfortunately, Dracula has always been able to outsmart him, and since the opening of Hotel Transylvania, Dracula has almost never left the hotel. Since the launch of the hotel, Abraham has grown old and he is pretty much out of the picture, but his grand-daughter has resumed the hunt for Dracula.

After all these years, Abraham has lacked the opportunity to hunt Dracula, but that all changes when Mavis (Selena Gomez) organizes a summer vacation on a monster cruise. Abraham Van Helsing‘s grand-daughter, Erica Van Helsing (Kathryn Hahn), sees the cruise as a perfect opportunity to kill the infamous Dracula. Meanwhile, Dracula is feeling lonely and explores the idea of finding love again. On the cruise, he “zings” when he first lays eyes on Erica. Unfortunately, he is completely unaware of her sinister intentions, so he is off-guard around her, putting himself in great danger.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then awarded for each Pro and taken away for each Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points ranging from 0-10 allowing me to convey to you how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Comedy (+8pts)

Mavis & Johnny (-4pts)

The Van Helsings (+3pts)

Predictable (-3pts)

The Monsters (+6pts)

The Climax (-3pts)

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Pro: The Comedy (+8pts)

The comedy in this movie hit hard and it hit often. There were so many jokes in this movie that audiences will barely be able to finish laughing at one joke before the next one hits. The humor was definitely aimed at kids, but adults will find themselves smiling and chuckling along as well. The filmmakers definitely enjoyed playing with things that were “normal” to monsters, but extremely bizarre to us. That was where most of the comedy comes from, and I had a fun time with it.

Some moments were clever, and others were ridiculous, but it will keep audiences entertained throughout regardless. The filmmakers definitely sacrificed good storytelling in order to deliver as many comedic moments as possible. However, I thought this strategy worked for this movie. This movie was for children, so the priority should be entertaining kids before worrying about a well thought out and compelling plot. Fortunately, the comedy in this movie will do just that. It will keep kids engaged and laughing, and it keep adults at least mildly entertained. It was far from the best kids movie out there, but I thought the comedy worked well.

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Con: Mavis & Johnny (-4pts)

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation ran into the same issue that a lot of movie sequels run into. Characters that were setup and were prominent parts of the previous movies felt sort of lost and irrelevant in this one. For this movie, the filmmakers seemed to struggle with Mavis and Johnny, with respect to what these two characters should be doing the whole time. All they did was give more characters for the filmmakers to have to juggle, when they could have spent the time focusing on characters who mattered more to this story.

It was as if the filmmakers felt obligated to include some characters just because they were in the last movie, even though they did not really have a natural place in this one. Mavis’ issues with her father dating seemed childish, while Johnny was just there to look shocked and crack random jokes. Both characters had moments when they were important, but for the most part, they felt unnecessary. The filmmakers should have tried to find something better for these characters to be doing, or they should have just had these characters not go on the cruise.

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Pro: The Van Helsings (+3pts)

Based on the trailers, the Van Helsings looked gimmicky, but they were actually set up really well. The Van Helsing family had been hunting monsters for generations, but Abraham Van Helsing had made a career of attempting to kill Dracula and his friends. The movie opened with this explanation and provided a very entertaining montage of Abraham’s many failed attempts. They even explained why we have not seen this character in the first two movies.

Erica Van Helsing has taken on her great-grandfather’s mission of trying to kill Dracula. She has lured him and his friends onto her monster cruise. On board, she made many attempts at trying to kill Dracula, which made for a lot of fun moments. Again, I was concerned that the Van Helsings characters would feel gimmicky and underdeveloped, but I thought the filmmakers did a good job of setting them up in an entertaining way.

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Con: Predictable (-3pts)

While I thought this movie set up the Van Helsings very well, the plot surrounding them was severely predictable. Erica was hunting Dracula on the boat. That was the premise, but shortly after these characters met, there was a reveal that occurred that will result in audiences knowing exactly where the filmmakers were going to go with the story. It was unfortunate, given how well the filmmakers set up this character, but it seemed that the writers gave up after introducing her.

I will not go into the details, but it was just a very typical direction for a kids movie. It left me pretty disappointed, but at the end of the day, this was a kids movie. It was a disappointingly typical direction for a kids movie to go in, but the target demographic will not care. As an adult, it was pretty darn predictable, but kids are not going to sit there critiquing the plot of this movie, so it is what it is.

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Pro: The Monsters (+6pts)

The filmmakers definitely know what makes this franchise unique and they ran with it. Monsters doing mundane things in monster ways was a lot of fun to see. My favorite of these moments was the Gremlin Airline. It was an airline run by gremlins who wanted nothing, but destruction and chaos. It was a very entertaining scene, and had no impact on the rest of the story, but I enjoyed this scene quite a bit, and there were a lot of scenes just like it.

From monster volleyball to monster daycare, this movie was constantly throwing new and unique concepts at the audience. This was where a lot of the movie’s comedy came from, but these scenes did more than simply provide comedy. It provided a ton of unique flavor that only this movie could really do. The filmmakers were clearly aware of what made this franchise different, and they clearly had a lot of fun playing with the idea of monsters doing familiar things in monster fashion, and I think audiences will have a lot of fun with these moments as well.

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Con: The Finale (-3pts)

Do not worry, I will avoid spoilers here—I know everyone is worried about the big Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation spoilers—but the filmmakers really brought out the cheesiness for the ending of this movie. The climax of the movie saw the final attempt from Van Helsing. The whole thing was really cheesy, even though some kids may like it. It was basically bad feelings versus good feelings, and it came across as disappointingly anticlimactic. If you like eating nachos during movies, but are running low on cheese nearing the end of the movie, then fear not, the climax of the movie has got you covered. There was dancing, bright colors, silly monsters, and loud music. It may be visually satisfying, but I thought it was a ridiculously cheesy, sappy way to wrap up the conflict of this story.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B- (82pts)

The filmmakers clearly had a lot of fun making Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. While it had a fairly predictable storyline, and a ridiculously cheesy finish, it was absolutely packed with unique comedy that will keep adults chuckling and kids entertained. The unique style came mostly from the monsters, and all of the creative and silly ways that the filmmakers played around with these characters. The filmmakers clearly enjoyed playing around with these concepts and audiences will enjoy seeing it. Dracula and his small gang of monsters were a lot of fun, and the filmmakers threw in plenty of new unique concepts—such as the Gremlin Airline—that will have audiences enjoying themselves. Unfortunately, the filmmakers struggled to write for Mavis and Johnny, but it was an issue that will be easily overlooked by kids. It was not the funniest or most well-written kids movie out there, but it was a decently entertaining kids movie.