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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation -- the third film in the Hotel Transylvania series -- follows Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) and his monster pals, including his half-human daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), and her family -- on a luxury monster cruise vacation. There's a bit more scary stuff/violence here than in the previous films; much of it is comic, but there are some tense chases, crashes, and confrontations, a creepy robot/human hybrid, and a long sequence involving an enormous sea monster on a rampage. Expect a few mildly suggestive remarks and moments -- butt jokes, buxom witches chasing after an elderly vampire in a skimpy bathing suit, etc. -- and a few unflattering depictions of female characters, like a beautiful witch on a dating app who turns out to be a warty troll. There's also a fair bit of romance in the movie, but it's limited to flirting, dancing, and a couple of kisses. Positive messages include embracing diversity, letting go of negative feelings and grudges, believing in the power of love, parents and kids communicating with each other, and the importance of parents reconnecting as partners, not just co-parents.
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What's the story?
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION starts with an 1897-set prologue that introduces monster slayer Van Helsing (voiced by Jim Gaffigan), whose family has tried unsuccessfully for generations to kill Dracula and all other monsters. Back in the present, Dracula (Adam Sandler) is busy coordinating another monster wedding when he realizes that all of his close friends are coupled off. Feeling lonely, he tries online dating but quickly decides it's not for him. His daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), catches him looking frazzled and has a brilliant idea to de-stress her dad: a family vacation. So Drac, Mavis, Jonathan (Andy Samberg), little Dennis, and the rest of the gang head off on a luxury monster cruise to Atlantis, where human captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn) makes everyone feel comfortable. Once Drac lays eyes on Ericka, he immediately "zings" with her -- the monster version of love at first sight. The only problem is that Ericka is actually a Van Helsing, and she's determined to fulfill her family legacy...
Is it any good?
This "threequel" lives up to the standards of its predecessors, which means it's fairly silly but promotes positive messages. These movies aren't Pixar-level masterpieces that kids and parents will want to watch on repeat, but kids really do respond to the jokes, the monsters and their physical comedy, and the sweet family dynamics. Not that there aren't jokes for adults, too; a funny subplot about overwhelmed werewolf couple Wayne (Steve Buscemi) and Wanda (Molly Shannon) marveling at the fact the cruise has a kids' club where they can drop off their dozens of boisterous cubs is aimed squarely at parents.
And while kids may not be totally caught up in Drac and Ericka's opposites-attract romance, they'll certainly care about Blobby (Genndy Tartakovsky) and the fact he can apparently turn his own blob bits into a Blobby baby and a Blobby puppy. Younger audiences partial to potty humor will also crack up at the dinner scene in which both Drac and Mavis eat overly garlicky Mexican food and suffer from gastric distress. Hotel Transylvania 3's storyline is kind of just a reverse of the original (this time it's the dad falling in love with a human, with the daughter being overprotective about the situation), but it will be more than enough to amuse fans of the franchise.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Hotel Transylvania 3's messages. What does the film have to say about love? Family? Diversity?
Why are monster movies so popular? Is this monster movie even scary? How does it turn classic monster-movie villains into everyday characters?
Did you notice any stereotyping in the movie? How does that affect the impact of the movie's messages about tolerance and diversity?
How does this movie compare to the first two? Do you think there should be any more?
- In theaters: July 13, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: October 9, 2018
- Cast: Adam Sandler, Kathryn Hahn, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg
- Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
- Studio: Sony Pictures Releasing
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Character strengths: Communication
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some action and rude humor
- Last updated: October 10, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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