Another outing for Drac and his pack!
After years of running the hotel together, Mavis (Selena Gomez) decides her and her father, Dracula (Adam Sandler) need a well-deserved vacation to rest and relax and spend quality time together; booking the gang on the world's first monster cruise as a surprise. After a less than stress-free flight on 'Gremlin Air', the gang arrive, and once aboard, are met by the charismatic Captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn), with whom Dracula immediately 'zings'.
But unbeknownst to our monster holidaymakers, this seemingly innocent cruise will bring them into direct confrontation with Dracula's nemesis, Abraham Van Helsing.
It says something when, after almost one hundred years since their big screen debut, and over one hundred and twenty years since the novels which inspired them, variations of these characters (or monsters) and their stories are still being written: and for children at least, the Hotel Transylvania franchise is one of the most endearing. The film's greatest strengths are the monsters who feature, the mythology surrounding them, and the filmmaker's ability to poke fun at the clichés that inhabit, whilst still being respectful to the pedigree.
The cartoonish, colourful and surprisingly detailed – if slightly over-the-top – animation is extremely pleasant and accessible; complimenting the tenor of the movie nicely.
The world in which it's set is vibrant and rich, and while I really enjoyed the setting of the first film (being primarily set in the hotel and its grounds), the franchise does benefit from occasionally getting away from that area and exploring different locales; something that's always a pleasure: in the second film it was the pack's "old haunts" and California: in this film, it's the cruise ship and the fabled lost (but now found.) city of Atlantis.
Love him or loathe him; there's no denying that Adam Sandler is ideally suited to this genre of film: as is the rest of the cast which remains fundamentally unchanged from the first two films; with Steve Buscemi (Wayne-Wolfman), David Spade (Griffin-Invisible Man), Keegan-Michael Key (Murray-The Mummy), Kevin James (Frank-Frankenstein's monster), Andy Samberg (Johnny) and Selena Gomez (Mavis), amongst others, reprising their respective roles.
Two notable additions include Jim Gaffigan as Abraham Van Helsing, Dracula's nemesis, and Kathryn Hahn as Captain Ericka, granddaughter of Van Helsing: both do a perfectly adequate job, but both are also wholly unremarkable: this isn't a criticism of Hahn and Gaffigan as actors; more of the movie's ability to extract more from its talent.
The narrative and script are the movie's primary drawbacks; neither being able to produce anything innovative or intuitive; making these aspects of the film feel maladroit. Worst still is the character development, which is either non-existent or badly paced; resulting in characters that either haven't changed at all or experience a total metamorphosis seemingly out of the blue.
The humour is a mixed bag of slapstick, fart jokes, and eccentric limb gesticulations; all the things kids (and, admittedly, many adults) like, unfortunately, this can make the movie feel a little in-your-face and irritating, even crass. Yes, you can argue it's a kids film, and, as such, it's just playing to its target audience, and you'd be right: however, the film does this even as it references things clearly intended for the adults in the audience; almost as though it can't quite decide who it's communicating to at any given time. And don't get me started on the ridiculous music and dance focused gags.
There really isn't an awful lot more to say about Hotel Transylvania 3, it is what it is; a harmless, good-natured, sometimes irritating kids film. There's no deep, affecting poignancy here; no emotional resonance to be found. If you wanted to assign some deeper meaning to it, you could argue it speaks of the importance of tolerance.
Most people will be content to take it at face value; as the entertaining and safe family film, it is. Hotel Transylvania 3 isn't likely to attract a significant number of adult viewers, but it will bring in families in their thousands, and that's great.
If you have children wishing to see this, or even if you happen to have enjoyed the first two films, you'll likely not be disappointed: and if like me, you're just happy that these characters/monsters are still relevant and being introduced to a new generation of viewers, you'll be over the moon.