Movie Review: “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation”
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
Over the course of centuries, 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 is 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 when Mavis (Selena Gomez) organizes a summer vacation on a monster cruise, Abraham Van Helsing‘s grand-daughter, Erica Van Helsing (Kathryn Hahn), sees 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 unaware of her sinister intentions, so he is off-guard around her. Hopefully he, or one of his friends, can figure it out before it is too late.
The Pros & Cons
The Comedy (+8pts)
Mavis & Johnny (-4pts)
The Van Helsings (+3pts)
The Monsters (+6pts)
The Climax (-3pts)
Pro: The Comedy (+8pts)
The comedy in this movie hits hard and it hits often. There are so many jokes in this movie. Audiences will hardly have time to finish laughing at one joke before the next hits. The humor is definitely aimed at kids, but adults will find themselves smiling and chuckling along. The filmmakers definitely enjoyed playing with things that are “normal” to monsters but extremely bizarre to us. That is where most of the comedy comes from.
Some moments are clever, others are ridiculous, but it will keep audiences entertained throughout. The filmmakers definitely sacrificed good storytelling in order to deliver as many comedic moments as possible. However this movie is for children (who generally have short attention spans), so the priority should be entertaining kids before good storytelling. Fortunately, the comedy in this movie will do just that. It will keep kids engaged and laughing (as much as any movie could), while keeping adults mildly entertained. It is far from the best kids movie out there but the comedy works well.
Con: Mavis & Johnny (-4pts)
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation ran into the same issue a lot of movie sequels run into. Characters that were setup and were prominent parts of the previous movie(s) were a struggle for the filmmakers 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. Johnny, especially, seemed to have been aimlessly thrown into the story (except for at the end).
All this did, was provide extra characters for the filmmakers to try to focus on, when they could have spent the time focusing on characters who mattered to the story. I get that Mavis and Johnny were incredibly important to the stories of the first two movies, but they just felt like clutter 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, because these characters fell pretty flat for me.
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 have been hunting monsters for generations, but Abraham Van Helsing has made a career of attempting (though failing) to kill Dracula and his friends. The movie opens 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 resumed her great-grandfather’s mission of trying to kill Dracula. She has lured him and his friends onto her monster cruise. On board, she makes many attempts at trying to kill Dracula which madevfor a lot of fun moments. Again, I was concerned that the Van Helsings characters would feel gimmicky and underdeveloped, but the filmmakers did a good job of setting them up in an entertaining way.
Con: Predictable (-3pts)
While I thought this movie set up the Van Helsings very well, the plot surrounding them was severely predictable. Erica is hunting Dracula on the boat. That is the premise but, shortly after these characters meet, there is a reveal that occurs that will result in audiences knowing exactly where the filmmakers are going. It is unfortunate, given how well the filmmakers set up this character, but it seemed that the writers gave up after having introduced her.
I will not go into the details, but it was a very typical direction for a kids movie. It left me pretty disappointed but, at the end of the day, this is a kids movie. It was a disappointingly typical direction for a kids movie to go in, but the target demographic (kids) will not care. As an adult, it was disappointing and it was definitely lazy writing, but I could not deduct more points for this issue, because the intended audience (kids) will not care about this problem. It is a kids movie so some issues need to be taken with a grain of salt. This issue will be unnoticed by the target audience but will have adults thinking it is very predictable.
Pro: The Monsters (+6pts)
The filmmakers definitely know what makes these films 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 is an airline run by gremlins who want nothing but destruction and chaos. It is a very entertaining scene, but that is just one example.
From monster volleyball to monster daycare, this movie is constantly throwing new and unique concepts at the audience. This is where a lot of the movie’s comedy comes from, but it does more than simply provide comedy. It provides a ton of unique flavor that other movies simply cannot copy. The filmmakers found a unique concept that ends up being really funny and entertaining, and they just ran with it. I could tell that the filmmakers had fun with this premise, and audiences will too.
Con: The Finale (-3pts)
Do not worry, I will avoid spoilers here (because I know everyone is worried about the big Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation spoilers), but filmmakers really brought out the cheesiness for the ending of this movie. The climax of the movie sees the final attempt from Van Helsing. In order to execute that plan, they need to play dark, ominous music. What is our protagonists’ plan to counteract this? Play happy, “good” music.
The whole thing was really cheesy, even though some kids may like it. It is “bad“music versus “good” music and comes across as disappointingly anticlimactic. If you are one that orders nachos and runs out of cheese, this movie will be able to give you a refill from the thick, excessive, cheese that is oozing from the screen. There’s dancing, bright colors, silly monsters, and loud music. It may be visually satisfying but it ends up feeing out-of-place and anti-climactic to the rest of the story.
Grade: B- (82pts)
The filmmakers clearly had a lot of fun making Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. While it has a fairly predictable storyline, and cheesy finish, it is absolutely packed with unique comedy that will keep adults chuckling and kids entertained. The unique style came mostly from the monsters, and all 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 them.
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 laughing hard. Unfortunately, the filmmakers struggled to write for Mavis and Johnny, but it is an issue that will be easily overlooked by kids. It is not the funniest or most well-written kids movie out there, but it will be a pleasant time for all audiences.