(In French, In Theaters, July 2018) There is so little to say about Hotel Transylvania 3 that it leads directly to asking why the film was needed. There isn’t much more here than, indeed, a vacation episode with a little bit of romance for the lead character. The film spends almost no time at the titular hotel, instead taking refuge on an ocean liner for monsters and various stops along the way. There’s some antagonism between Dracula and the Van Helsing family, a dance-music-dominant finale, and an opponent-to-lovers arc (well, as much as can be included in a kids’ movie). Returning director Genndy Tartakovsky keeps thing running with more or less the same level of energy than his previous two instalments, with Adam Sandler once again turning in a better-than-usual voice performance to anchor the piece. As a film, it’s okay—not good, not bad, just sufficiently in-between to be acceptable family entertainment. I’d complain about missed opportunities in not going with a bigger idea, except that I’m not sure there is a bigger idea to be had—the Hotel Transylvania series is looking as if it’s settling in for cruise control and much more of the same. At least it’s not painful to watch, which is already better than many other kids’ movies these days.
(On Cable TV, June 2013) From the first few moments, in which we see a vampire father taking care of his baby daughter with hilariously re-worked parenting lullabies and tricks, it’s easy to be won over by Hotel Transylvania’s easy blend of sweetness, humor and dark visuals. One of many recent kid’s animated movies to exploit horror imagery in relatively non-threatening context (also see; Frankenweenie, ParaNorman), Hotel Transylvania is easy to watch because of the gags inherent in “a hotel for monsters”, but remains compelling because it has something not too saccharine and not too rebellious to say about the need for teenage independence. Adam Sandler turns in one of his least-annoying performances to date as the voice of the father-vampire, but it’s Genndy Tartakovsky’s direction that keeps things moving. As with nearly all contemporary animated features for kids, the plot of often interrupted by musical numbers and frantic action sequences. (The final sequence with a vampire flying alongside a jetliner shows a bit of invention.) For adults, there’s a bit of fun in seeing horror monsters re-used to comic effect, as well as the exploitation of traditional tropes from the monster’s point of view. Hotel Transylvania all amounts to an enjoyable family film, with a surprising amount of heart.