A startling revelation came about yesterday as I wrote my review of Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015): they have announced a Hotel Transylvania 4. Oh . . . no. Here I was thinking my viewing of Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018) last night would finally end this particular Adam Sandler nightmare. But, no, there is at least one more planned in this cynical, cash grab of a franchise that seeks to take advantage of children and their parents’ desperate desire to keep their young ones entertained for a blessed hour and a half. I am sure this next one, whenever it comes out, will be forced upon either myself or Cameron. In the meantime, please “enjoy” this review of the third installment.
If you have been keeping track of the vampire troupes that the Hotel Transylvania franchise tramples, then you will note that the one they had yet to do is Professor Abraham Van Helsing (voiced by Jim Gaffigan), the vampire hunter from the Dracula upon which this is all (so tenuously) based. That is until Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. We are introduced to the “deadly” struggle between Van Helsing and Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler), which dates to 1897. Once the back story and painfully obvious foreshadowing is established, the film brings us to modern times and the title resort. Business is running smoothly, but Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez), Dracula’s daughter, believes her father is working too hard. Instead, the stress that he had lately been exhibiting is the result of him feeling lonely, and we know this because he is attempting to use the monster equivalent of Tinder to find a date. In the time honored Hotel Transylvania (2012) fashion, rather than being honest with his daughter Dracula opts for hiding the fact that he is lonely. Lying, in other words. The backdrop for this tired farce of when the truth will finally come out in the third film is a monster’s only cruise Mavis books for her whole family. This also includes all the denizens of the hotel . . . who never seem to leave! Anyway, surprise, surprise, the ship they all board is run by Ericka, say it with me, Van Helsing (voiced by Kathryn Hahn), who is the great granddaughter of the miraculously still alive elder Van Helsing, kept going by a set of mechanical devices. Not only does he have an irrational hatred of Dracula, but all monsters, an attitude he has apparently passed down through the generations. In yet another glaring plot twist, Ericka eventually casts aside her inherited murderous intent, and begins to fall in love with the famous vampire. This occurs despite Dracula’s literal incoherent babbling, a Sandler comedic trademark. It helps, too, that Dracula saves Ericka’s life a few times while she attempts to retrieve the mythical McGuffin from the lost city of Atlantis. You know, why not throw in Atlantis, which is now a casino? Contained in what appears to be the ends of octopus tentacles is not a magical weapon for killing monsters, device for controlling their minds, or anything else you might expect. Instead, it holds sheet music that, when played, causes the otherwise happy-go-lucky kraken to slip into a destructive, murderous rampage. Luckily (I guess), Jonathan (voiced by Andy Samberg), Mavis’ husband, is on hand to use his DJ “skills” (I am sorry for all the quotation marks) to defeat the musical spell and save all the monsters. Ericka helps too, and they all go back to the hotel, unfortunately to be heard from again at some point.
There is an old joke that says that you are special . . . just like everybody else. That pretty much sums up Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation for me. What makes us special is God. Yet, for the sake of the mental exercise, what is it that does make us special? Our modern society is mired in self-proclaimed identity politics that, it would seem to me, further divides us. It is all well and good to say that all we need to do is get along, but on what basis do we empathize with others? If we are continually telling ourselves that we are different from everyone else, do we not drift further apart as individuals? To be fair, I think that uniqueness is valuable, and I delight in the variousness of God’s creation. In the end, though, there is only one person who knows our true value and what makes us special in its completeness, and that is our Creator. I understand that not all of us will be practicing Catholics like me, or simply Christian. Yet, if we could accept that it is God who makes us who we are, not some dumb children’s movie telling our kids that they are just like everyone else, is that not a reasonable foundation for real understanding among people?
There is a bunch of other crap in Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, nonsense designed to distract you from the fact that the plot is about as thin as a puddle, or that it feeds on the desire of kids to be distracted, to make money. There is also nothing different here that has not already been done in the first two films. Hence, I am not sure why anyone would waste their time with this one. And I do mean anyone, young or old.