In this third entry of Sony’s lucrative Hotel Transylvania animated franchise, co-writer and director Genndy Tartakovsky finally stepped out of his comfort zone by swapping the first two movies’ titular hotel’s premise to a cruise ship.
This time, Count Dracula’s a.k.a. Drac (voiced by Adam Sandler) daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) persuades her overworked dad to take a break from managing the hotel and spend quality time together as a family on a cruise vacation. Joining them on board includes Mavis’ husband Johnny (Andy Samberg) and their little son Dennis (Asher Blinkoff), the Drac Pack — Frankenstein (Kevin James), Wayne the werewolf (Steve Buscemi), Murray the mummy (Keegan-Michael Key) and Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade) — as well as the rest of respective family members.
Drac is initially feeling disgruntled over the idea of embarking on a summer vacation. But all that is forgotten the moment he meets and falls in love with the ship’s captain, Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). However, unbeknownst to him, Ericka is actually Van Helsing’s (Jim Gaffigan) great-grandfather, who are secretly working together to eliminate Drac and the rest of the monsters for good.
If you watched the first two Hotel Transylvania movies, this third entry essentially follows the same storytelling and visual patterns. Only this time, Tartakovsky seems to be running out of fresh ideas here. Most of the jokes are either trite, uninspired or painfully juvenile. Even the plot feels like an overstretched half-an-hour cartoon forced to expand into a feature-length animation. It would have worked better if it’s an animated short instead.
Although some of the recurring supporting characters — particularly the Drac Pack — are sadly relegated to minor roles, Hotel Transylvania 3 still has its moments.
Both Adam Sandler and Selena Gomez reprised their roles well enough as Drac and Mavis. Adam Samberg shines in his otherwise limited role as Johnny, particularly during the climactic finale. As for the newcomers, Kathryn Hahn and Jim Gaffigan are both a nice addition to the Hotel Transylvania franchise as Ericka and Van Helsing. Not to mention Kathryn Hahn’s Ericka shares an amusing yet wonderful love-hate chemistry with Adam Sandler’s Drac.
Tartakovsky’s brand of manic, yet colourful visual gags flies thick and fast as usual. While some of them miss the mark, others like the hilarious Looney Tunes-like opening montage involving Van Helsing’s unsuccessful attempts to kill Drac in different ways and the extended scene where Drac dancing to the funky tune of Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic”, are worth mentioning here.
Hotel Transylvania 3 is no doubt the weakest entry here if to compare with the first two movies. But viewing this as a standalone entry, it remains a reasonably fun time-killer for a kid-friendly entertainment.