WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Sony’s Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, in theaters now.
With its central theme of family, Sony's Hotel Transylvania franchise introduced multiple generations of Dracula, the Count (Adam Sandler), his father Vlad (Mel Brooks) and, of course, daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez). But as the latest chapter of the story, Summer Vacation, may demonstrate, director Genndy Tartakovsky is ready to move beyond the adults.
With Dracula now finding true love once more, and uniting the Van Helsing family with his own, a potential fourth film in the series should instead look to one of its younger stars, Dennis, the human-vampire hybrid son of Mavis and Johnny, who has proved time and again why being from two worlds -- that of the monsters and that of the humans -- makes him the future of the franchise.
Hotel Transylvania was more or less Mavis' story, as her father tried to stop her from loving a human, Johnny (Andy Samberg). They eventually married, and the 2015 sequel waded into Dracula's rivalry with his father Vlad, and the uncertain destiny of baby Dennis. Summer Vacation now brings everything full circle, with Dracula proposing to Ericka Van Helsing (Kathryn Hahn) t0 end to the age-old feud.
To keep the story fresh, the franchise should use its star in the making, the doe-eyed Dennis (Asher Blinkoff), who's just as much a hero as he is comic relief. In other words, he's easily the character who can take the baton from his grandfather. In the latest film, Dennis helps stop Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) by stumbling across his scheme with granddaughter Ericka to lure the monsters to a fancy cruise and kill them. In doing so, we see just how quirky and detective-like Dennis is, as he displays flashes of brilliance the adults in his life so often don't.
Dennis is depicted as a brave kid who loves adventure, a more level-headed version of Dash Parr from The Incredibles. Summer Vacation reiterates how much he loves both monsters and humanity, which means he can further bridge the gap between those two sides. Imagine him as a teen finding his own way in life and showing humanity it's meant to co-exist with monsters, becoming the face of this new world order. Given that he's a vampire too, he's basically a superhero in the making, especially as he has the giant wonder-pup Tinkles for a sidekick. Thus, any villains who pop up will surely have bitten off more than they can chew.
Placing Dennis in the spotlight would smartly shift the dynamic toward someone Tartakovsky's target audience can relate to. Seeing as there's a really cute romance brewing with him and childhood sweetheart Winnie the werewolf (Sadie Sandler), the audience can expect more endearing moments as well. That angle can even lead to a family rivalry between Dracula and Winnie's dad, Wayne (Steve Buscemi), who just so happens to be the vampire's best friend. Throw into the mix Wayne's wife Wanda (Molly Shannon), as well as Ericka and maybe some new kids for Dracula, and you've got a recipe for a fun love story among two teenagers and their wacky families.
Ultimately, Dennis has easily been the character you can't help but root for. He's innocent, sentimental and, most importantly, stands from the rest of his hot-headed family. Of course, he gets most of his traits from his mom, so there's always that mother-son bond to explore with Mavis.
Dennis may be a hybrid, but his altruism and love for all living creatures is a breath of fresh air in these movies, as he embodies the sense of warmth and unity such animated films ought to be instilling. That makes him the perfect choice to be Dracula's heir, in every sense of the word.
Directed by returning filmmaker Genndy Tartakovsky, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation stars returning cast members Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Molly Shannon, Fran Drescher and Mel Brooks.