Same as it ever was with wacky monsters

When an animated movie succeeds – which, if it has a major studio behind it, is often – you can expect sequels.

About the film
The first Hotel Transylvania (2012, Movie Man No. 1001, 6) had a fun concept, and there were a few laughs to be had.
The voice cast was rock solid and it contained several funny sight gags.
The sequel did not fare nearly as well.
Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015, MM #1169, 3) had very few chuckles.
And now here’s 3: Summer Vacation, and the string looks like it’s already run out – but it’s still a hit.
The Movie Man has never been shy about seeing animated movies; he never considered them “kids pictures” and appreciates that animation can do things “normal” movies can’t.
This is Movie Man review No. 1,315 and that got the Movie Man to thinking about all the “cartoons” he has seen.
It took some research, but here’s what he came up with since MM #1 May 20, 1993.
Counting this week’s movie, the Movie Man has reviewed 108 animated movies.
(Tallied were movies that were either hand-drawn, computer generated, stop-action, or with puppets; if humans were involved too often [like Chipmunks movies], they was not counted.)
Here are the top 10:
10. Toy Story 3 (2010, 8)
9. Up (2009, 8)
8. The Simpsons Movie (2007, 8)
7. The Lion King (1994, 8)
6. Toy Story (1995, 8)
5. Fantasia 2000 (1999, 9)
4. Shrek 2 (2004, 9, Best of Year)
3. Toy Story 2 (1999, 9, Best of Year)
2. Finding Nemo (2003, 9, Best of Year)
1. Shrek (2001, 9, Best of Year)
Nos. 1 and 2 are close, but the original Shrek is flat-out hilarious and gets the nod.
And the bottom 10:
10. Cars 2 (2011, 4)
9. Shark Tale (2004, 4)
8. Ice Age 2: The Meltdown (2006, 4)
7. The Spirit (2008, 3)
6. Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015, 3)
5. Veggie Tales: Pirates (2008, 3)
4. Team America (2004, 3)
3. Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012, 3)
2. Cats and Dogs (2001, 3)
1. Doug’s 1st Movie (1999, 3)
The Movie Man still remembers trudging into Doug’s 1st Movie in a crappy theater during the final showing on a weekday night. It’s the most he’s ever suffered to bring his loyal readers the truth.

The plot
Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) thinks her dad Dracula (Adam Sandler) is working too hard at their busy hotel.
So she books passage on a cruise boat for him and a slew of his buddies.
Sandler has been single for a long time, believing there’s only one “zing” – true love – per lifetime.
Then he meets the ship’s captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn), and he’s smitten.
However, she’s only pretending – initially – to like Sandler; Hahn’s actually the great-granddaughter of Sandler’s generational arch enemy, Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan).
When an all-powerful object is obtained by Hahn – with great help from Sandler – Gaffigan can now finally begin dispatching the monsters he so despises.
But Hahn has been zinged, too, and she interrupts her great-grandfather’s plans.

What works
There is an occasional funny line here. Sandler complains that he’s been taken on a vacation from a hotel to what’s really just a hotel on the water.
There’s a funny throwback to the previous movies’ mocking of Dracula’s accent, “blah, blah, blah,”
Some running visual gags work better than others, like with married werewolf couple Wayne (Steve Buscemi) and Wanda (Molly Shannon) who can’t believe there’s a day care on the boat that will watch their scores of wild children while they can simply walk away.
The animation is solid – using zombies as lumbering bellhops is always funny.
The film focuses more on entertaining children than inserting the occasional sly adult joke; the Movie Man saw HT3:SV with a slew of Movie Kids, and they liked it much more than he did.
Best scene
The movie’s best bit comes early when the history of Dracula and Van Helsing is chronicled through a series of violent/funny scenes where Van Helsing always gets creamed right before he’s about to dispatch the vampire.

What doesn’t work
The huge majority of verbal jokes are poor. And the visuals got old, too.
(But never for the Movie Kids, especially the giant, slobbery dog Tinkles.)
The plot – which, admittedly hardly matters in kid-centric animated movies – is one of the oldest you’ll find.
There’s some sort of dance-off where the payoff of using old songs to combat today’s electronica should’ve worked better.

The rating
In what may be a first, the biggest laugh from the Movie Man’s audience came when Gomez passed gas; usually it’s a dude or monster who has trouser trumpet issues – not girls.
The PG is fine.

Summing up
HT3:SV, like its predecessors, made a fortune.
So, in a couple of years, look for HT4; the Movie Man will likely be taking another horde of Movie Kids to it, too.

Next up
It’s been a while since the original Equalizer (2014, MM #1107, 7), but the second arrives with the great Denzel Washington (tied for Best U.S. Actor with Tom Hanks) again setting things straight.