It isn’t all smooth sailing when Drac and his quirky family embark on a holiday like no other aboard the world’s first-ever monster cruise, in Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation.
Mavis (Selena Gomez) and her father Drac (Adam Sandler) have worked tirelessly to give their guests the best monster hotel experience. In a bid to create quality family time, Mavis plans a surprise vacation for the monster pack to enjoy. The luxury cruise ship awaits them within the Bermuda Triangle, but they must first survive the chaotic flight on board Gremlin Air, with the mischievous crew keeping true to their name by reeking havoc and causing cascading malfunctions in the plane. A delightful piece of 80’s nostalgia for any parents in the cinema audience.
The pack is quick to unwind and begin making memories as they steer towards their destination – the Lost City of Atlantis. Peculiar looking fish-men with feet provide first-class service and crooner-style musical entertainment as they stop at the underwater volcano and the deserted island along the voyage. Vlad (Mel Brooks), the most ancient of the family, wastes no time catching up on his moon tan – much to the delight of the witches on board. When Drac instantly zings upon meeting the ship’s mysterious captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn), the opportunity for romance presents itself. But little does Drac know, Ericka is a descendant of his nemesis Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan), who determines to fulfil her family legacy of destroying monsterkind once and for all.
Writers Genndy Tartakovsky and Michael McCullers attempt to give the franchise new life, but make a critical error by centering the plot on Drac and his hopes to find love again. It’s a sweet story, but unlikely to capture the full attention of junior moviegoers. In comparison to the earlier films, kid-favourite characters including Mavis, her goofy husband Johnny (Andy Samberg) and their 5-year-old son Dennis feature far less. The most giggles come from Dennis’ new puppy Tinkles, who he has disguised as a passenger by the name of Bob to get past the ships’ ‘no pets’ policy. The monster-sized pet was first introduced to fans in the 2017 short Puppy! and is a welcomed addition to the franchise.
Tartakovsky, who directed all three films, uses Mavis’ response to her father’s unexpected and problematic love interest to highlight the challenges children face when accepting a new parental figure in their life. But all-in-all the movie hits way above its target demographic. Take for instance the werewolf couple Wayne and Wanda (Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon) who have more pups than they can handle. Their story centres on experiencing some overdue R&R after discovering there’s a Kids Club on the ship – clearly a parent-targeted narrative. Although, the film should still prove a box-office success given its strategic school holiday release date.
When watching a kid-friendly movie, one can ordinarily expect a stellar soundtrack, and Hotel Transylvania 3 is no exception. DNCE’s Joe Jonas features as Kraken, the giant sea-monster who gives the passengers a show and much more than they bargained for while under Van Helsing’s influence. Dutch DJ Tiësto provides the beats and the foundation for a music battle that sees Johnny’s mid-90s DJ skills determine the fate of all monsters.
“You gotta be greater than the haters”, says Murray the Mummy who’s voiced by Keegan-Michael Key. If there is one crucial take-home for kids, it’s this. The central theme of Hotel Transylvania 3 (and its predecessors) is the importance of accepting each other’s differences and bravely forging one’s own path – busting down stereotypes in the process. For this reason, it’s worth the price of admission.
Like with Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015) which released the same year as Jurassic World (2015), Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation (2018) released the same year as its sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018).