The Other Side of Animation 136: Hotel Transylvania 3 Review

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To me, the Hotel Transylvania franchise gets a lot more flack than it really should. Not to say that the films are flawless, I mean, they aren’t perfect films, but they are ultimately harmless. The hate these films receive seems to be way more critical than studios that have made worse films. Again, they have their flaws, and some parts are going to be more negatively received than others, but in a world where Guardian Brothers and Norm of the North exist, you can watch much worse in the animation scene than the Hotel Transylvania franchise. I was curious to see how the newest film, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacationwould work out. Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky again, we see Sony take its franchise and instead of releasing it in the fall like the last two, it uproots our heroes for a summer release. Does it work? Well, let’s see what we find.

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Adam Sandler returns as Dracula, who is having a bit of a rough patch in running the hotel with his daughter Mavis, voiced by Selena Gomez. He’s feeling lonely, and has no time for such things like dating or taking a break, while running the hotel. Mavis then decides to take her family and the entire gang on a cruise at the Bermuda Triangle. As Dracula and his friends/family get on the cruise, he catches himself zinging/falling for the captain of the ship, Erika, voiced by Kathryn Hahn. Unfortunately, no one knows that Erika’s full name is Erika Van Helsing, the great granddaughter of Abraham Van Helsing, voiced by Jim Gaffigan. Will Dracula find out before it’s too late and everyone is in trouble? Will they enjoy some really good visual gags and jokes?

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Let’s get the good out of the way, first. I know some people would rather hear me talk about the bad, but for me, I found a lot to love about this movie. First off, the animation is still amazing. No matter what pros and cons the individual films in the series have, the animation from Genndy Tartakovsky and his team bring so much life and identity with the films, and it’s no different here. Heck, Genndy himself makes a lot of jokes that wouldn’t have worked otherwise by a lesser director. They also take advantage of the setting, with the characters like the wolves dropping their kids off at daycare, Frankenstein and his gambling addiction, Atlantis as a casino with a giant kraken voiced by Joe Jonas, the shuffleboard goal being the outline of a dead body, the plane ride to the Bermuda Triangle being piloted and run by gremlins, and you get the idea. You can tell that the animators had a lot of fun working on this film, due to how lively, expressive, and entertaining the characters are. While no one really has a story arc outside of Dracula, I think everyone had a good gag, joke, or line. Some of the characters also felt more like characters than in the last movie. That’s probably because Adam Sandler was not behind the writing for this film. I think some of best gags also come from the fish servants that are all voiced by Chris Parnell. One of the biggest laughs that the audience and I got was at the scene where Chris is singing the Macklemore song Downtown in a super deadpan style. I also enjoyed the chemistry between Dracula and Erika. It was cute at times. I know much of this film is gag-driven, and can feel a lot like a Looney Toons cartoon, but it still finds moments for characters to breath and talk. Sure, it has predictable plot elements, but I liked elements that other people have criticized in this film. One example I find myself disagreeing with is that Dracula is being terrible by hiding the secret to Mavis that he has a crush on Erika. To me, I think that’s a bit more realistic, because how would you feel as a single parent and finding someone that reignites that spark, but you are worried about how your kids would react? The same goes for Mavis, as while it almost comes off like she has the exact same plotline as Dracula does in the first film, she’s nervous. I think there is a bit more heart in this film than others are saying. I even love how they flipped the whole dance sequence trope that happens in other films. I won’t spoil what happens, but I think everyone will get a laugh out of it.

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Now, with all that said, I still have plenty of flaws to talk about with this one. While I was laughing, it was laughing more at the reactions and physical aspects more than the jokes. While I’m glad the film didn’t overload the film with subplots, I wish more characters had something to do. They finally pay off the joke that the invisible man has an actual invisible girlfriend, but nothing is done with it. They make Frankenstein’s wife and him more of a loving couple, but not the invisible woman? I also wish Mel Brooks’ Vlad did more. The second film didn’t utilize him enough, and he’s basically background noise here. Jim Gaffigan is a wildly entertaining addition to the franchise, but, you guessed it, not a lot to do until the end. I also found the film predictable, but this film’s story was not its full focus. I respect that Hotel Transylvania 3 was meant more for gags, but I do wish there was more story in this film like there was in the first one.

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I know some people are mad at Genndy’s response to the Critics response to the film series’ reception, but I feel like he has a point. I found myself having a fun time, and needed a goofy romp after a stressful week of work. Now, I’m not saying I don’t get why people don’t like this series or find problems with it. I totally get why this might not be for everyone, but for me, I enjoyed it. I highly recommend checking it out. It’s not going to harm you or is sending some kind of negative message. It even has a nice moral at the end. While I don’t know how much more they can pull from this franchise, I have enjoyed my time with it. Sometimes, you just need a lightweight movie. So then, next time, let’s dive into a wacky and surprisingly humorous time with Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the review, and I will see you all next time!

Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation: Hotel Transylvania Review

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Raise your virtual hand if you have an encyclopedic-sized book of insults and reasons why you hate Adam Sandler. If you raised your hand, and you literally have that type of book, then I’m not surprised. Adam Sandler always seems to be one of those odd anomalies in Hollywood, since he has racked up more bad movies than most actors, but due to how much money his films make, they let him keep making his films, or as they are known as, “glorified vacations”. Sure, I agree that he has a few good movies under his belt. When he isn’t directing, writing, or producing, and is just an actor, the movies turn out to be good, but he puts no effort into everything else he does. That is why today’s review is of one of his better movies, Hotel Transylvania. This was produced by Sony Pictures Animation, and directed by one of my favorite cartoonists, Genndy Tartakovsky. Hotel Transylvania was a film everyone thought would flop, but when it was released on September 28th of 2012, it garnered positive reviews and has a sequel already out in theaters. So, what do I think of the first film? Well, read on, my lovely vampires and monsters of the night.

The story revolves around Dracula, voiced by Adam Sandler, who builds a huge castle/hotel to protect his daughter, Mavis, voiced by Selena Gomez, and the rest of his kind from the outside world. On Mavis’s 118th birthday, the hotel has its first human step inside, named Jonathan, voiced by Andy Samberg. At first, Dracula is trying his best to get rid of Jonathan without any of the monsters knowing. Of course Mavis finds interest in Jonathan and shenanigans ensue.

Let’s talk about the best part of the film, its personality. This has to do a lot with the fast-paced animation and the designs of the characters. Every character has its own animation, and they move fluently. The art direction is gorgeous and unique, compared to a lot of films that try to copy the Pixar or Dreamworks style. It reminds me of older cartoons by the likes of Genndy Tartakovsky and his past experience with shows like Dexter’s Laboratory, and Symbiotic Titan. Like I said, the animation is very fast. It’s a hyperactive film, like The LEGO Movie. A lot of the humor comes from the jokes being based around the characters and the environment. For example, some of the best jokes come from David Spade’s character, The Invisible Man. What also helps is that a lot of the jokes are actually funny and don’t revolve around too much of the boring stuff that higher-ups think children’s films should have. Granted, there is a fart joke here and there, but 95% of the jokes can be picked up on by both kids and adults. This is easily one of the most expressive films I have ever seen. They put so much effort into each character’s movements that it feels like a 3D version of an old Looney Toons short. It’s also what I liked about Genndy’s CGI animation demo for Popeye, it’s not afraid to look like a cartoon. I also enjoyed the voice work. Some of these casting choices should have failed, like Adam Sandler as Dracula and Selena Gomez as Mavis, but they actually pull off some pretty good voice work. The entire cast does well working off one another, and it seems like they are all having fun with the movie. The rest of the voice cast is also spectacular, like Murray, voiced by Cee-lo Green (before he was a scumbag), Frankenstein and his wife, voiced by Kevin James and Fran Drescher, Wayne the werewolf, voiced by Steve Buscemi, and so on. Many times, these casting choices don’t work, since this film has a lot of Adam Sandler’s regular crew from his films, but they all sound like they had fun with their respective roles. They were being goofy, but not panderingly goofy like they are in a lot of other Adam Sandler projects.

It’s all the more shame that the story is not that interesting. The characters and basic story set-up is not overly engaging if you break down the tropes. You have the over-protective dad, the daughter who is cooped up at the hotel and wants to travel, the male lead from the outside world that will change the dad’s views, the squabbles, the misunderstanding that takes place near the third act, and so on. It’s not an original story. Maybe if they took a few different directions with the dad and the daughter characters, and didn’t flip-flop the relationship between Dracula and Jonathan, Andy Samberg’s character, then the film might have been well received a bit more. While I enjoyed a lot of the jokes and the fast cartoony animation, I think some of the more juvenile jokes like the farting gag could have been replaced. I also found Andy Samberg’s character a tad annoying. He tries to be this overtly hip young guy who looks like he was pulled right out of the 90s, and while I don’t think he is the worst aspect of the film, it really got grating at times.

This is one movie that I enjoyed, but can totally understand if people don’t care for it. The sequel just came out, and from what I have seen, it’s getting the same reception. A lot of people love it, but there are some mixed reviews as well. Personally, some of the critics are judging this way too harshly. I think this movie has more good than bad, and I’m glad they got such a talented director to helm the project. If you haven’t seen it, and want to see it before the sequel, I would recommend finding it for a cheap price. There is even a short film by Tartakovsky himself included, and I would watch anything done by him. So, where do we go from one of Adam Sandler’s best movies? Well, how about a more innocent Halloween film with Room on the Broom? Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Rating: Go See It!