Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

July 13, 2018

 

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

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Cast: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, David Spade, Steve Buscemi, Fran Drescher, Keegan-Michael Key, Molly Shannon, Kathryn Hahn, Jim Gaffigan, Mel Brooks

Director: Genndy Tartakovsky

Rating: PG, for some action and rude humor

Running time:1 hour, 37 minutes

 

 

By PIERS MARCHANT

blood, dirt & angels

You’d think the three-to-five years of production time it takes to produce a feature-length studio animation picture would preclude such a thing, but somehow, some way, adam sandler has found an animated series that seems just as half-cocked and lazy as so many of his live-action comedies.

Much as I might want to, though, I can’t lay the blame for this misbegotten and undercooked bomb on Sandler’s shoulders: His voice work as Dracula, such as it is, might actually be the single least irritating aspect of the film.

It’s just that by dint of effort, and sway of cynicism, the film falls so completely into the cliched barrel of spent comedies that Sandler is so famous for, it seems almost too fitting: If you took out the many extended dance sequences and references both oblique and direct to the buttocks of the characters, you’d have about 12 minutes of material, thin as a sheet of baking parchment paper.

It goes without saying — or maybe it doesn’t but it should — that I am most definitely not the film’s target audience, but as it happens, I am the father of a 12-year-old, and her response was only slightly less tepid than mine.

Take it for what it’s worth that even in front of a raucous crowd primed to best appreciate it, long stretches of the film fell before a deadly silent audience, and so many of the pallid jokes failed to land even a glancing blow, I would be hard-pressed to say our reaction was any kind of outlier.

Let’s see how few words we can use to describe the story: Things are fine in Transylvania, where Dracula and his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), run their hotel for what appears to be mostly their friends, only Drac is lonely, seeing all his other buddies matched up and married (he goes so far as to disastrously log into Zingr, a Tindr for monsters). Wanting to give her father a rest, Mavis arranges for the whole gang to go on a Monster Cruise, a ship run by the capable Captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn), a blond go-getter whom Drac instantly falls for.

Problem is, she, in fact, is the great granddaughter of Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan), the famous monster hunter, still thirsting for his revenge against the count and his ilk, and as such, is helping him round up the monsters for what they believe will be their final execution.

From there, you can pretty much suss the rest out (when in doubt, opt for the most absolutely dead obvious plot maneuver, and you’ve arrived), the only trick is how long it takes everyone to come around to the film’s grand theme of inclusion and acceptance (about 30 seconds, on average).

I well realize this is a movie for elementary school set, and yet, such a message, as tacked on and trampled over as presented here, suggests a nirvana-like paradise where all that needs to happen in order for people to fundamentally change their lifelong-held beliefs of prejudice, fear, and intolerance, is a single act of kindness or charity on the part of their previously sworn enemies.

Especially in the extraordinarily divisive and tribal environment we live in now, to suggest otherwise is even more disingenuous than presenting a benign vampire that somehow no longer needs human blood to survive. (The film nimbly dodges any question of Drac’s diet by never showing him eating anything, period: Apparently, his fangs are now vestigial appendages, like an appendix.

I’m all for a positive message for our children, but if one is presented as lazily and haphazardly as this, it allows kids to think the whole thing is just that simple, and in the end, with a positive attitude and just the right (shudder) combination of happy dance tunes — and here, I have to warn you the film’s climax involves the massive overuse of an abhorred dance song so vastly irritating and repetitive, you’ll be doomed to hum it the rest of the day and hate yourself for it — we can all just get along after all. I have to warn you here that the film’s climax involves the overuse of an abhorred and irritating dance song  and you’ll be doomed to hum it the rest of the day and hate yourself for it.


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