Movie Review: 'Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation'
With monsters that are more silly than scary, this quirky cartoon is a good choice for children in elementary and middle school.
“Hotel Transylvania 3” is a campy spin on the classic Dracula fable.
Photo courtesy of CTMG, Inc. and Sony Pictures Entertainment
Dracula and his weird and wacky pack are back with a colorful and entertaining "three-quel" about the monsters taking a cruise to the Lost City of Atlantis. It’s smooth sailing as the monsters indulge in shipboard fun, from lavish dinners to monster moon bathing to vampy volleyball. But their dream vacation becomes vexing when Dracula falls in love with the ship’s captain and discovers her sinister scheme to wipe out all monsters.
Dracula may be a vampire, but he still experiences human feelings, like loneliness. He longs for a lady to make him “zing,” the monster equivalent of falling in love. He downloads a dating app and discovers some beautiful monster ladies who turn out to be warty ogres. As a surprise, Mavis books a cruise for Drac and his friends, including Frankenstein (Kevin James) and his wife Eunice (Fran Drescher,) Wayne the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi) and his wife Wanda (Molly Shannon), Murray the Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade) and Blobby (Genndy Tartakovsky.)
The monster cruise goes to the Lost City of Atlantis, with stops at the Bermuda triangle, Underwater Volcano and Deserted Island. Aboard the cruise, Dracula is instantly smitten by the charming, pixie-haired captain, Ericka (Kathryn Hahn.) Drac stammers and babbles incoherently, trying to cover it up by acting as if he’s speaking Transylvanian. Little does Drac realize that his love interest is actually the great granddaughter of his arch nemesis, Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan).
Below deck, the elderly Van Helsing keeps himself alive by eating kale and replacing most of his body parts with machine parts. He encourages Ericka to hate vampires and schemes to kill Dracula and all monsters aboard the ship. Ericka and Van Helsing plan to go to Atlantis to retrieve the “Instrument of Destruction,” which turns out to be a ceramic octopus arm that contains sheet music of hypnotic songs. What eventually ensues is a climatic showdown of good music versus bad music, to compete for the souls of all monsters aboard the ship.
Appropriateness for Children
“Hotel Transylvania 3” is a campy spin on the classic Dracula fable. With monsters that are more silly than scary, this movie is a good choice for children in elementary and middle school. The movie is rated PG for mild action-adventure scenes, slapstick-cartoon violence, rude humor and suspenseful situations. Younger children might be frightened by Kraken, a huge purple octopus who croons like Frank Sinatra and plays the piano. Sometimes Kraken is menacing and destructive, but he has a goofy side too. Also slightly unsettling are gravelly-voiced gremlins flying the airplane before the monsters board the ship.
Expect some jokes about passing gas and mild sexual innuendo. Some witches lust after Grandpa Vlad (Mel Brooks) when his moon-bathes in a skimpy swimsuit, eyeing his rear end and admiring his "nice buns.” There's some romance in the movie, but it’s mostly flirting, holding hands and a few kisses.
There are some life-and-death situations with Captain Ericka and Dracula as they venture into Atlantis. Erika schemes to kill Dracula, but her actions are laughable, such as putting garlic oil in the guacamole. (Remember old horror films where garlic is used to ward off vampires?) The climatic showdown of good music versus bad music is also nonsensical, and turns out to be a clever way for the characters to make amends.
If you take your children to see this movie, you might want to talk to them about the “love at first sight” that occurs between Drac and Ericka. The movie suggests that true love can be recognized by the “zing” or feeling you get from seeing someone, and that you must never give up on them (even if they are trying to kill you). The movie also suggests that “a zing never lies” and that it’s a sign of true love. It’s nonsense, of course, but children may take this idea to heart.
Movie-goers may appreciate the funny parts of the movie, such as Wayne Werewolf and his wife dumping off dozens of their rowdy pups at Kid’s Club. Also funny is Blobby who is a green, Jell-O like blob and when his gel breaks, he turns into a Blobby baby and a Blobby puppy.
“Hotel Transylvania 3” is a quirky cartoon that encourages unconditional acceptance, whether you’re monster or human. Captain Ericka and Van Helsing learn to accept monsters, and let go of a grudge that they’ve held for generations. It’s a happy ending to this otherwise madcap monster medley.