Review: ‘Hotel Transylvania: Transformania’ Concludes Monster Franchise With Familiar Pleasure | Entertainment
The last thing you see before the “Hotel Transylvania: Transformania” title card drops at the end of the film is a character shrugging his shoulders with a smile as if to say, “That’s what it is.” That’s a pretty good summary of the movie itself.
The fourth and final installment in a long-running 3DCG monster franchise, “Transformania” delivers what most viewers expect from a “Hotel Transylvania” movie: frenetic energy, physical comedy, and Dracula learning another lesson about acceptance.
This time around, the film also contains some meta elements that its young target audience probably won’t notice or care too much about. A story about being ready to pass the torch, “Transformania” sees Genndy Tartakovsky – who directed the first three “Hotel Transylvania” films – hand over directing duties to Derek Drymon and Jennifer Kluska. Tartakovsky, best known for his work in television animation, co-wrote the screenplay with Amos Vernon and Nunzio Randazzo.
The celebration that kicks off the action this time is the 125th anniversary of Hotel Transylvania. Dracula (Brian Hull, replacing franchise staple Adam Sandler), who saw his beloved daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) grow up within the walls of the establishment, is ready to give her the reins so that he can enjoy his retirement with his new love, Ericka (Kathryn Hahn).
Or so he thinks. As much as Dracula believes in Mavis’ ability to make things work, he absolutely doesn’t trust her human disaster husband, Johnny (Andy Samberg), not to mess things up. One thing leads to another and Drac and Johnny essentially switch places – Drac becomes human and Johnny a monster – because, as the old saying goes, you can’t really know someone until you’ve walked through. a kilometer instead.
In the case of “Transformania,” that mile is stretched on an adventure through the jungles of South America. It’s a setup that allows Drac, among other things, to suffer from sunlight in the most extreme ways a human can.
Young viewers who already have an affinity for the “Hotel Transylvania” film series will likely find enough to entertain themselves in this latest installment. The amount of havoc the normally clumsy but fairly harmless Johnny can cause as a monster is impressive, and there are plenty of easy laughs to be had watching all the familiar monsters of Drac’s pack in their new human guises.
For parents, the fun of “Transformania” might come down to their attitude toward adults who never quite grow up. Johnny, a self-proclaimed slacker, is in heightened form here, even compared to previous “Hotel Transylvania” movies. Unless you already have a natural liking to the character – or feel the same epiphany as Drac over the course of the film – Johnny might be a bit too much, especially since he’s not the one who must show growth.
That said, one of the biggest strengths of the “Hotel Transylvania” series has always been its cartoonish style and its adoption of more over-the-top, bouncy character animation. While it might not be as innovative as it was when the first film in the series debuted in 2012, Drymon and Kluska’s “Transformania” still delivers visual delight.
Another hallmark of the “Hotel Transylvania” films is their routine setup – Drac tries to keep a secret from Mavis for one reason or another, then has to get out of trouble. This time, Mavis gets a bigger part in the action. While a lot can be said about Mavis having to clean up after her dad or husband, it’s nice to see her taking an active role in saving the day.
‘HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA: TRANSFORMANIA’
MPAA Rating: PG (for action and crude humor, including cartoon nudity)
Where to watch: Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
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