Plot: Dracula (Adam Sandler) is now a proud grandfather and thrilled to have Mavis (Selena Gomez) involved in the family business, but he is rather lonely and laments that monsters can only zing, or fall in love, once. But Mavis hopes to perk up his spirits with a surprise trip for him and of course, all of the hotel’s regulars are also on board, though Dracula resists the vacation at first. This is especially true when he learns the trip is a cruise, which he sees as just a hotel on the water. But when he first sees Captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn), his entire outlook changes and while it should be impossible, he zings as soon as he lays on her, despite her being a human. Little does he know that Ericka happens to be a descendant of his arch rival Dr. Van Helsing and the cruise is a set up to take out Dracula and the other monsters. Will the nefarious plan work as intended or will true love break down the barriers between Dracula and Ericka, making this the best vacation ever?
Entertainment Value: The third installment in the Hotel Transylvania series does what few sequels can claim, which is to surpass the previous sequel and even the original movie, to be the most fun volume in the franchise. I had a blast with this movie and while I liked the first two, this one is just flat out more hilarious and outlandish, with a firm focus on entertainment. That means less emphasis on narrative to a point, but given the family friendly nature of the Hotel Transylvania series and well established lore, I think the shift to pure fun is more than welcome. The characters are built and fleshed out by this third movie, so this time around they’re juiced up to let loose and play off their roles in previous films. The movie also rolls out some new faces, such as Tinkles the massive pug, Ericka as a love interest for Dracula, and an odd, twisted vision of Dr. Van Helsing that is quite a strange concoction. The pace is super brisk, but not rushed and gives the story enough time to develop, while the humor is at a consistent flow and has some nice spikes as well. I think even basic exposition scenes are spiced up with visual gags or some kind of humor, so Hotel Transylvania 3 never holds back on the humor and delivers ample laughs.
The animation looks terrific as usual for the series, though it takes a brighter, bolder color scope and adds in much more depth overall. This helps the movie feel unique in the series and the vacation theme resonates, thanks to the vivid colors and more wide open visual design elements. The usual suspects all return in this sequel and as before, much of the cast is Adam Sandler’s regular crew of performers. Sandler is Dracula and the goofier material allows him to be in his natural element, so his humor is more open and he can do more of what he does best. He handles the silliness of the role well and improves some of the less than ideal dialogue, drumming up the humor with his over the top, enthusiastic delivery, which pays off often. So even if you’re not usually into Sandler’s brand of humor, it fits like a glove with the material here. Kathryn Hahn is one of the new additions and she meshes well with the rest of the cast, again with the kind of over the top humor that the role needs. She is able to make the most of her lines and dial up the dialogue at times, so the cast is a huge reason why this volume is so much fun. The cast also includes Kevin James, Mel Brooks, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Molly Shannon, Steve Buscemi, Fran Drescher, and David Spade.