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Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation – Movie Review

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Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation – Movie Review

Rating: B+ (Very Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Sony Pictures

With the first two Hotel Transylvania movies, Genndy Tartakovsky experimented with bringing his unique brand of snappy and fast-paced animation to a computer animated production. While the scripts themselves were fairly simple, the films were funny little escapades with endearing monsters at the centre. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation tops them with a more imaginative story, a surprisingly emotional layer and Tartakovsky taking the animation up to 11. Most of the comedic gags hit as the artists seem to greatly enjoy finding creative ways for Dracula, Wayne the Werewolf, Frankenstein’s Monster and the other creatures to spend this holiday on the high seas.

Tartakovsky doesn’t waste much time getting the film into full swing, starting with a brilliant sequence of the famous monster hunter Van Helsing chasing Dracula through the years. That madcap energy is consistent through the rest of Hotel Transylvania 3, yet the experience somehow never feels exhausting. These are charming monsters and Dracula has grown from an overprotective father to a sympathetic vampire, while his daughter Mavis has also shown development and progression through the films. Dracula represents one of those times when Adam Sandler is allowed to show a different side of himself, even underneath a stereotypical vampire accent. There are times when the film occasionally sees what everyone else is doing and these make for entertaining little scenes, too. The werewolves’ subplot as they deal with their hundreds of pups is particularly delightful.

The scene stealer of Hotel Transylvania 3 ultimately becomes the cruise ship’s captain Ericka Van Helsing. Designed like a character out of a Popeye cartoon, she is given a well developed arc as she attempts to do away with Dracula. Tartakovsky and his co-writer Michael McCullers create many humourous interactions between the two and also use these to further show Dracula’s nervousness over his love life. It’s a credit to the filmmakers that even typical animated comedy clichés like a dance party and a flatulence joke produce giggles. This is a movie where Chris Parnell’s deadpan fish performing a cover of Macklemore’s “Downtown” is hilarious to watch.

The highlight of the previous Hotel Transylvania films was the animation. Tartakovsky and the team at Sony Pictures Animation go full force on the classic cartoon aesthetic in this entry. Every frame is a marvel of splendid character animation to the point where even Jonathan doing something in the background is funny. This also feels like the most atmospheric of the films. Some scenes look almost like paintings and Tartakovsky allows for short moments between the comedic set-pieces for us to admire the scenery. One sequence, set underwater, relies almost entirely on the visuals and the music to tell the story and it’s a beauty. Of the major Hollywood animation studios, Sony Animation has proven itself one of the more experimental in terms of design and movement and Hotel Transylvania 3 represents another triumph for them.

Genndy Tartakovsky was going to make a movie about Popeye the Sailor Man at one point and Hotel Transylvania 3 appears to be his stealth way of making something akin to those classic Fleischer shorts. The sea voyage concept allows for new opportunities for humour, but the film also shows how attached some have grown to these characters. The emotional core of the story is earned and the final result is a pleasing experience, sure to produce smiles at every corner. Whether there will be more adventures with the Drac Pac remains to be seen, but this is a highly enjoyable series of movies that succeed in pushing what computer animation can accomplish. It’s wonderful to see an artist like Tartakovsky bring his trademark style to this medium.


Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison