Film review: Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation just lacks that bit of bite
TOWARDS the gently effervescent conclusion of director Genndy Tartakovsky's computer-animated sequel, a DJ attempts to break the evil spell that has enslaved a kraken by blasting out Bobby McFerrin's upbeat anthem Don't Worry, Be Happy.
The infectious, chart-topping hit should play throughout Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation, which doesn't worry about character development or a coherent plot and is blissfully happy to set sail for predictable laughs in foreign climes.
Humour in the second film, released in 2015, in which the great and the good of the monster world gathered at Hotel Transylvania for the wedding of bloodsucker Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) and her human beau Jonathan (Andy Samberg), was decidedly long in the vampire's tooth.
The same is true of the script for this third chapter, co-written by Tartakovsky and Michael McCullers, which introduces Dracula (Adam Sandler) to the perilous world of right- and left-swiping potential love matches.
"You can't be too picky. You haven't had a date in 100 years!" Invisible Man (David Spade) reminds the fanged fiend.
Dracula's daughter Mavis (Gomez) becomes concerned that the clan isn't spending enough quality time together so she organises a surprise holiday for her nearest and dearest including her husband Jonathan, six-year-old son Dennis (Asher Blinkoff) and grandfather Vlad (Mel Brooks).
She surprises Dracula with a voyage to the lost city of Atlantis via the Bermuda Triangle aboard the luxury cruise liner Legacy.
"It's a hotel... on water," retorts her unimpressed father.
His mood brightens when he meets the ship's acrobatic captain, Ericka (Kathryn Hahn), who seems to like a pasty-skinned suitor with an aversion to sunlight and garlic.
Meanwhile, Wayne the werewolf (Steve Buscemi) and his wife Wanda (Molly Shannon) drop off their pack of cubs at the on-board creche and relax in the company of Invisible Man, Frankenstein (Kevin James) and his wife Eunice (voiced by Fran Drescher), and Murray the Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key).
En route, skeletons tumble out of one family's musty closet and Dracula affirms the importance of family unity in times of crisis.
Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation is blessed with bright, colourful visuals and lightweight humour that should appeal to younger audiences including a turbulent flight aboard ramshackle Gremlin Air.
The soundtrack grooves to Bruno Mars, The Beach Boys and Jonas Blue, casting a warm summery glow over the confrontations and tearful reconciliations.
Vocal performances search in vain for big laughs amidst the sugary sentiment and a final reel reveal is telegraphed far in advance.
It comes as no surprise that the third film contrives an unconventional romance for Dracula to bring him out of his coffin of self-loathing and provide some fresh blood for future adventures.
Personally, I'd politely hammer a stake through the franchise's heart before our affection for these characters festers into disdain.
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: A MONSTER VACATION (U, 87 mins) Animation/Comedy/Action/Romance. Featuring the voices of Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, David Spade, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, Andy Samberg, Mel Brooks, Asher Blinkoff. Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Released: July 27 (UK & Ireland)