The “Hotel Transylvania” movies are meant for families and children. The first time I watched one I wasn’t expecting it to be as fun as it was but it was surprisingly good with lots of witty insights and family love. With this fourth film in the series, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sometimes sequels can be disappointing. While there are changes in the voice actors for Count Dracula and Frankenstein, the story was still fun, mass chaos, and adventurous with family togetherness.
Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is a computer-animated monster comedy, the film is directed by Jennifer Kluska and Derek Drymon from a screenplay by Amos Vernon, Nunzio Randazzo, and Genndy Tartakovsky (who directed the prior three films). In this fourth and final installment, Count Dracula (voiced by Brian Hull) is thinking of retiring with his love, Ericka Van Helsing (Kathryn Hahn), giving the hotel to his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez) but hesitates over worries that Johnny (Andy Samberg) will destroy what he’s built. Johnny goes to Professor Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) for a solution to be able to become a monster so he can get Drac’s approval. Van Helsing has invented a monster gun and uses it on Johnny but in the process, Drac and his friends, Frankenstein (Brad Abrell), Wayne (Steve Buscemi), the werewolf, Murray (Keegan-Michael Key), the mummy, and Griffin (David Spade), the invisible man, all are turned human. Worse, there are side effects to turning something into a monster. Drac and Johnny head out to solve the problem, with Mavis, Wanda (Molly Shannon), Eunice (Fran Drescher), and Ericka and the guys all heading out after the two to help prevent the worst. The question remains, will they get the solution before the side effects take place in Johnny?
The story isn’t terribly complex but what it makes up for in complexity are fun and adventure. It also further develops the relationship between Drac and Johnny, teaching Drac how Johnny complements the monsters and how Johnny’s differences help strengthen Mavis and Dracula. Johnny helps Dracula as he struggles with being human and delights in being a monster even though his change leads to problems. It is the lessons Dracula learns and the adventures to solve the problem with the monster gun that makes this delightfully fun and genuinely funny. It capitalizes on how family can argue but also find common ground even among differences.
The humor of the film is one of the elements that makes the film so funny. The comedy is built on the differences between Johnny and the monsters. But it is also built on the switch of monsters to humans and Johnny to the monster. Some of the comedy is very physical, watching Dracula as he learns how to hike, without powers and for example, Johnny learning to fly as both are falling. There are tons of laughs, especially when we see what the monsters look like when they’ve transformed into humans. There is so much humor that most audiences will be laughing until the very end of the movie.
The voice actors give solid performances in their roles. The change from Adam Sandler to Brian Hull was difficult to spot and Brian Hull sounds so close that I found nothing to fault. He is funny and excellent with the emotions that he puts into the role. Andy Samberg is just as good in this movie as he’s been in the rest of the films. He brings warmth and joy to the role and love for the people in his life. Selena Gomez is warm as Mavis and is fearless in confronting the problem in front of her character. There are no bad performances. I could go on with the entire list but ultimately everyone in the film is superb and this helps the film shine.
There are a few items that I do find problematic. In previous films, Dracula has learned to appreciate Johnny and so him hesitating once again, seems to be using the same plot as before. While it is well done and funny, it doesn’t change that the plot is a retread of previous movies in the series and relies on the differences between Dracula and Johnny to lead that comedy. However, it is still fun, families will love the film for their familiar characters, it is adventurous with the switch from monsters to humans, and character changes made zero difference to the story and the film.
If you’ve enjoyed the previous films in the series, I feel you will love this movie as well. If you liked the family fun and comedy of the others, this has all those same elements with an interesting twist on the previous movies. The ending is satisfying and the characters a delight. I loved every moment.
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA: TRANSFORMANIA is exclusively launching on Amazon Prime beginning this Friday January 14th.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Monsters
Hotel Transylvania: Transformia
Drac and the pack are back, like you’ve never seen them before in HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA: TRANSFORMIA. Reunite with your favorite monsters for an all-new adventure that presents Drac with his most terrifying task yet. When Van Helsing’s mysterious invention, the “Monsterification Ray,” goes haywire, Drac and his monster pals are all transformed into humans, and Johnny becomes a monster! In their new mismatched bodies, Drac, stripped of his powers, and an exuberant Johnny, loving life as a monster, must team up and race across the globe to find a cure before it’s too late, and before they drive each other crazy. With help from Mavis and the hilariously human Drac Pack, the heat is on to find a way to switch themselves back before their transformations become permanent. HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA: TRANSFORMIA launches on Amazon Prime Video January 14, 2022.