Having successfully navigated the perils of his daughter Mavis’s marriage to a human and the birth of his grandson, Count Dracula starts to feel lonely and unfulfilled. Passing it off to Mavis as work-related stress, Dracula is forced to go on a new Monster-only cruise to unwind and, frankly, nothing goes how it’s supposed to.
The core cast of the franchise return for Hotel Transylvania 3, with Keegan-Michael Key staying on as Murray after taking over from CeeLo Green in 2015’s Hotel Transylvania 2, along with new additions including Kathryn Hahn, Jim Gaffigan and Chris Parnell. Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon as Wayne and Wanda are given more room in this installment to embrace their over-wrought parent characters and lean into them wonderfully. Selena Gomez’s Mavis is surprisingly under-utilised in this film, given how prominent she is in the advertising, but she makes the most of her scenes and, as with the other films, bounces wonderfully off Andy Samberg’s Johnny.
Genndy Tartakovsk’s directing remains as switched on as it has been for the previous films, bringing some more wonderful imagery to life, and the animation quality is, of course, superb. Mark Mothersbaugh’s score is wonderful and, in the tradition of Mel Brooks who also returns as Vlad, delivers a couple of laughs of its own.
As with the previous films in the series, Hotel Transylvania 3 is clearly intended to be family entertainment, with material appealing to the parents watching along with their kids as well. If anything, there seemed to be fewer jokes aimed at kids than the previous films, with most of the gags and surrealism of the film aimed squarely at the adults.
Which is not to say that there’s not plenty for kids to enjoy in this instalment. The screening I attended to review the film was full of families and the children didn’t seem to be restless or bored at any point, which feels like a better indicator for a child’s enjoyment than my opinion of the film.
One of the things I have enjoyed about the Hotel Transylvania films so far has been the handling of multi-cultural issues. You’d be hard pressed to say that the anti-racism narrative of the films was subtle, by any means, but there’s a nuance to it that I’m enjoying. Within just three films, parents can find examples to discuss inclusivity and intersectionality, internalised racism, appropriation, micro-aggressions, and even radicalisation and the cycle of violence.
If there’s one disconcerting element to it all, it’s their choice of the ‘catchiest song in the world’. I thought we were done with it, but like a cursed board game, it has washed up again to terrorise us all anew. How dare they.
Hotel Transylvania 3 is in cinemas now.