Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
When she finds her lonely dad swiping away at the Zinger app, Mavis (voice of Selena Gomez) arranges a surprise family trip on a luxury monster cruise ship where they enjoy sports, excursions and moonbathing. But the fun is cut short when his she realizes Drac (voice of Adam Sandler) has fallen under the spell of the ship's duplicitous captain Ericka (voice of Kathryn Hahn) in "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation."
Laura's Review: C+
While one of the oddest things about this sequel is that its namesake hotel is barely seen, the good news is that the film's animators get a chance to show off some lovely underwater imagery in their new environment. In fact, considering the undistinguished characterization of its 'human' faces, the animation overall here is top notch, from incredible detailing in costume (check out the black-on-black embroidery on Drac's getup, then note the macabre touches on his 'Hawaiian' shirts) to photorealistic ocean waves. Unfortunately, the story peters out as it goes along, but even in its last act there are pleasures to be found. The film's fast pace and ADD narrative should make this one a slam dunk for kids. Cowriter/director Genndy Tartakovsky kicks things off with an 1897 prologue that sees Drac and his buddies Frank (voice of Kevin James), Wayne the Werewolf (voice of Steve Buscemi), Murray the Mummy (voice of Keegan-Michael Key) and Invisible Griffin (voice of David Spade) traveling on a train disguised as Eastern European babooshkas. When their arch enemy, Van Helsing (voice of Jim Gaffigan) bursts into their car, the resulting melee lands them on top of the speeding train, Van Helsing vanquished like Wiley Coyote (who was surely the inspiration for the montage of Drac and Van Helsing's subsequent matchups through the ages). The only off note is that this iteration of Van Helsing brandishes some sort of ray gun, but then again, he's after vampires that coexist with humans. After a quick stop in the present day for the Prickle wedding that initiates Drac's depression, the extended family board Gremlin Air for the destination Mavis has kept secret. Two Gremlin pilots guide their death trap to a crashed water landing at the Bermuda Triangle where everyone can board the Legacy for their voyage to Atlantis. Drac has resigned himself to make the best of things, enjoying family time, but once the white-suited, platinum-bobbed Ericka bounds out to welcome her passengers, Drac experiences a 'zing' that will not let up. Unbeknownst to him, though, Ericka is the great-granddaughter of Van Helsing, still alive through the aid of a steampunk contraption that renders him a wheelchair-bound jack-in-the-box. Van Helsing is plotting to destroy all monsters with a device hidden at Atlantis, but Ericka sets right in, aiming to slay the count. Tartakovsky's screenplay follows the rule of threes, the ship stopping first at the underwater volcano Del Fuego where the crew go scuba diving, then a deserted island where Drac makes a midnight date. Shipboard hijinx include Drac's dad Vlad (voice of Mel Brooks) strutting in front of a trio of witches in his skimpy swim briefs, Wayne and his wife Wanda (voice of Molly Shannon) discovering the joys of the shipboard Kids Club where they dump their unruly cubs and the seasick Blobby creating mini-mes every time he vomits. A subplot involving Mavis and Johnny's (voice of Adam Samberg) son Dennis sneaking his giant puppy Tinkles onboard goes nowhere. The film's big finale may not be particularly inspired, but it is danceable, and once again Drac's message that we're all the same, whether human or monster, wins over hearts and minds. Grade: