If we weren’t entirely sure we needed Hotel Transylvania 2, that goes triple for Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, the over-busy, hyper-kinetic brain scramble from Genndy Tartakovsky. But since this summer has been largely vacant as far as kids movies go (Incredibles 2 is the only other one to be released since school let out), we’re stuck with it. It’s not entirely worthless, mind you, so long as you’re a ten-year-old child jacked up on sugar.
The whole gang is back for the third go-round—which centers on the monster clan taking a cruise to enjoy some downtime—including Adam Sandler as Dracula, Selena Gomez as his daughter Mavis, and Andy Samberg as his son-in-law Johnny. Also along for the ride are Sandler regulars Kevin James as Frank(enstein), Steve Buscemi as Wayne the werewolf, and David Spade as Griffin, the invisible man. Further adding to the madness is Jim Gaffigan as vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing and Kathryn Hahn as Ericka, his great granddaughter and the cruise director; while Dracula is busy falling for her, she is busy plotting his demise.
Appropriate amounts of craziness ensue, interspersed an endless barrage of three-second, flash-grenade snippets that explode in gonzo humor before being forgotten just as quickly: The ship’s babysitter has a heck of a time with Wayne’s two dozen wolf cubs! EEK! Dracula’s grandson smuggled a giant, slobbering pet dog on board! WOOF! Blobby the Blob gets seasick and yaks himself up a son! BLURP!
There is some semblance of a plot here, but it gets lost early on in all the hysteria. After all, when everything is whizzing by at 90 miles an hour, there’s no time to pay attention to a pesky plot. In fact, all you really need to know to grasp the essence of HT3 is that the Kraken is eventually released, and that its lifeblood is EDM, which Van Helsing supplies from a handy keyboard… and that eventually a DJ battle breaks out between Van Helsing and Johnny, as each tries to out-EDM the other.
Give Tartakovsky credit—when he does something, he doesn’t go half-way. This is the same guy that has already given kids The Powerpuff Girls and Samurai Jack. Subtlety is not an option. And for every adult who might feel like he or she is having a seizure or being sent into cardiac arrest at Hotel Transylvania 3, there are twenty kids in the front row that are jumping up and down, screaming “Best. Movie. EVER!”
To be sure, there are moments of decent fun in HT3, and quite a few of the jokes stuck the landing, but in the end, you’ll most likely walk out feeling as though a dub-stepping unicorn just trampled you.