Mission Lab

REVIEW: ‘Hotel Transylvania 3’ a family-centric monster movie. Huh?

July 13th, 2018 / By: Michael Foust / comments

REVIEW: ‘Hotel Transylvania 3’ a family-centric monster movie. Huh?

It isn’t easy being Dracula, especially when your primary job is running a hotel. You greet guests. You make sure they’re happy. You balance the books.

When is Dracula – who is more than 500 years old, after all – going to have free time for himself?

That’s when his daughter, Mavis, takes action. Sensing that dear-old “Drac” needs a vacation, she begins planning a getaway for family and friends. She will be part of the trip, too, as will her husband and children. So will Grandpa. And Frankenstein. And Murray the mummy.   

Their destination: a monsters-only cruise to the Bermuda Triangle, where they can relax on deck under the moonlight, visit an active volcano and perhaps even find the lost city of Atlantis.

It’s just the type of care-free monster ambiance that can lead to monster love – and that’s exactly what happens when the widower Dracula falls for the ship’s bubbly human captain, Ericka. Can a vampire-human romance endure the test of time? Will it lead to marriage? And, more importantly, will Mavis – who never knew her mom – get out of the way and let her father actually date someone?     

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (PG) opens this weekend, starring Adam Sandler (Big Daddy) as Dracula, singer Selena Gomez as Mavis, Kathryn Hahn (Tomorrowland) as Ericka, and a host of other big-name actors – including Kevin James and David Spade – as the other monsters.

The story follows three angles: 1) Dracula’s love for Ericka; 2) Mavis’ effort to thwart the romance; and, 3) an attempt by someone on the ship to kill Dracula and his monster friends.

It’s the third film in the Hotel Transylvania series, which has been popular among the moviegoing public but controversial among some Christians for its inclusion of monster themes. (More on that in a moment.)

Let’s examine the content.

Violence/Disturbing

Moderate. With Looney Tunes-type animated violence. A man tries killing Dracula with several instruments, including a laser. It’s played for laughs. Glemlins pilot the airplane that takes Dracula and his family to the cruise; it crashes into the water. Coffee is poured onto a mummy’s crotch. A character discusses her desire to “kill” Dracula. Frankenstein’s hands, arms and legs fall apart at the beach and run in different directions. Skeletons and several grotesque monsters take part in the cruise. Dracula is bitten by snakes and shot by arrows but doesn’t die. A demonic-looking sea creature tries eating everyone. A human character has a robotic body and carries one of his organs in a jar.

Sexuality/Sensuality/Nudity

Minimal. Two monsters kiss at a wedding. Dracula tells his smartphone to help find a date. Someone tells Dracula that he should make his own “fireworks” on the cruise. Dracula dances and briefly twerks. Some of the monster women wear cleavage-bearing clothes and swimsuits. Grandpa wears a speedo, which prompts several witches to stare at his rear. A monster spanks his own bottom while dancing.  

Coarse Language

None. Oh my gosh (1) and oh gosh (1).

Other Stuff You Might Want To Know

Ericka says monsters were once underground until they told the world: “We’re here, we’re hairy and it’s our right to be hairy.” The monsters gamble at slots and at card tables. We hear two monsters pass gas.

Life Lessons

Despite its monster plot, Hotel Transylvania 3 covers several major themes that can spark discussions in families: re-marriage, growing up without parents, and raising children as a single mom or dad.

“It was hard being a single dad,” says Dracula.

Referencing his next chapter in life, he adds, “Family is everything. You have to honor the past. But we make our own future.” 

Another character grew up without her biological parents.

A scene involving a mom and dad finally getting some “alone” time – a date -- might remind the moviegoing moms and dads that they need the same.  

Additionally, one specific character learns to see another character in a positive light. It’s a nice lesson on not judging a person before you know him/her. 

Worldview

The Hotel Transylvania series has split the faith crowd. Some watch them. Others, though, don’t. Why is there a divide? It’s because Hollywood has taken something that traditionally has been viewed as evil – monsters – and turned them into the hilarious good guys. Too, Dracula historically has been a horror figure who craves blood. But in the animated films, he’s the hard-working protagonist who loves his family. Thus, Hollywood redefined monsters and packaged it all in a children’s movie. The first two movies also were released around Halloween – a holiday that some Christians scorn.

Count me among the parents who are uneasy about the Hotel Transylvania series. Yes, the films are often funny and, yes, they carry good themes. I simply wish those points could have been made by using other characters – that is, characters not from the horror genre.

Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think about the use of Dracula, Frankenstein and other monsters in the series as the good guys?
  2. What did you learn about family and parenting by watching Dracula and Mavis?
  3. What caused Ericka to change her mind?
  4. What did you like about the film? Not like?

Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Rated PG for some action and rude humor.