Fangs for the Memories
Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky
Starring Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg
Released July 13th, 2018
Years ago, comedian Todd Durham created a “bible” for his Hotel Transylvania concept, outlining ideas for seven feature films, an animated television series, video games, and even theme park attractions. He took his ideas, unsolicited, to Columbia Pictures, resulting in three feature films (to date), an animated television series, video games, a theme park attraction in Dubai, and over one billion dollars in box office history. The theatrical trilogy features primarily the same voice cast throughout (with Keegan Michael-Key replacing Cee-Lo Green from the 2nd film on), and three rambunctious scores from Mark Mothersbaugh.
In the first film we are introduced to Mavis Dracula (Selena Gomez), who has spent her entire life behind the walls of her father Dracula’s hotel for monsters and is anxious to explore the world now that she’s turned 118. Dracula (Adam Sandler) has been fearful for his daughter’s safety since becoming a single parent after his wife was killed by humans shortly after Mavis was born. A backpacker named Johnny (Andy Samberg) happens upon the hotel and falls in love with Mavis, much to Drac’s chagrin. It’s a charming film where monsters are lovable and humans are scary and it holds up well, except possibly for the autotune singalong that closes the film.
Genndy Tartakovsky’s animation style is quite unlike what is en vogue in animation today, with exaggerated body movements and goofy reaction scenes.
In the second film we are introduced to Drac’s father Vlad (Mel Brooks), an elderly vampire who still dislikes humans. Mavis and Johnny are now married and the parents of a toddler named Dennis. Drac desperately wants his grandson to display signs of vampirism, while trying to convince his dad that humans aren’t all bad. I can’t recall any other animated franchises that have made characters parents and I think that’s a neat element of the Hotel Transylvania films. Yet part two feels too long, possibly the result of a troubled production that found creative control being wrestled between Adam Sandler and director Genndy Tartakovsky, creating a film with tone issues and gags that wear out their welcome.
For this third installment, known internationally as A Monster Vacation, Mavis is concerned that her father is working too hard at the hotel and books a monster cruise to the lost city of Atlantis for her fanged family and friends. There they meet cruise director Ericka (Kathryn Hahn), a human with whom Drac is immediately smitten. Drac is conflicted in his feelings, since he doesn’t want to disrespect his late wife’s memory, and Mavis has her own complicated feelings about her father falling in love again. To further make matters difficult, Ericka has a connection to Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan), who is on board the cruise ship, having kept himself alive far beyond his normal lifespan through archaic machinery and a seething hatred for Dracula.
Featuring Chris Parnell as many identical deadpan fish and Joe Jonas as a singing Kraken, Hotel Transylvania 3 is a heartwarming and hilarious family comedy featuring memorable scenes and characters, a true pleasure to watch from beginning to end. More so than the earlier Hotel Transylvania films, part 3’s animation really pops. Genndy Tartakovsky’s animation style is quite unlike what is en vogue in animation today, with exaggerated body movements and goofy reaction scenes. It’s a computer generated take on Tex Avery. At the beginning of the film, Hotel Transylvania 3’s subtitle, Summer Vacation, pops on screen in big block letters like an old horror movie. It’s a nice touch in a movie full of nice touches.