Review: Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation

Any movie that promotes the values of tolerance and multi-culturalism will always get a vote from me and Sony’s Hotel Transylvania franchise champions it. Sweet natured, self deprecating, and running on a pentameter of cultural whimsy more than a fully realised plot, this third outing is a colourful and undemanding animated adventure.

It feels kind of dirty for me to be positive about comedies that involve Adam Sandler as, generally, they make me shudder with fear. Yet, that’s never been the case with the Hotel Transylvania franchise. The original film, modest in its outlook of Dracula trying to reconnect with his wayward daughter whilst managing a ragtag bunch of monsters and avoiding the dangers of humans, was an unexpected charmer that ticked more boxes than it crossed. What was really unexpected was how good Hotel Transylvania 2 was. It expanded the mythology, the characters and the action to deliver what is, to this day, the best in the series.

Along comes Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation which, smartly, takes the story out of the hotel and onto.. a floating hotel. Opening to a prologue on a centuries old rivalry between Dracula (Adam Sandler) and bumbling monster hunter Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan), we’re greeted to repeated thwarted attempts by the latter to dust our hero. Time, as they say, does not weary them even if it ages them….

Dracula is playing wedding celebrant when we meet him as Hotel Transylvania is now the multipurpose vacation spot for all things that go bump in the night. Yet, all work and no romance make Dracs a very dull and lonely boy. Misinterpreting his loneliness for tiredness, his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) books a holiday on a monster cruise ship for him and the gang. Little does anyone know that this cruise ship and its captain have a more nefarious plan in mind…

All the expected gags are here and they range from gutter humour right through to some very clever (and very adult focused) sight gags. There’s subplots aplenty running around in this Vacation which hinder the overall impact of the central story but return director and co-writer Genndy Tartakovsky keeps the whole thing breezy so it’s never dull.

Personally, the side story of the wolf husband and wife team (David Spade and Molly Shannon) provides the most laughs but the whole this is so rapid fire and silly you coast along with it. Oh, and the flight to the ship is a piece of comedic gold.

Though it has a lesser impact than its predecessors, Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation does one thing so very, very well. It’s underlying message of tolerance, which has been the case for the entire series, is its beating heart. The film continues to remind its audience, in its rambunctious and comedic ways, to never judge somebody because they look different to you or becuase history tells you to. For that, this vacation gets a pass!