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Hotel Transylvania: Transformania – Movie Review

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Hotel Transylvania: Transformania – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Amazon Studios

Since the delightful monsters in Genndy Tartakovsky’s Hotel Transylvania first hit movie screens in 2012, they have provided plenty of laughs thanks to the inventive animation and clever gags. It is a simple premise, of a hotel populated with monsters, taken down some humorous avenues. The fourth film is reported to be the final movie in the franchise and it serves as a pleasant way to stay goodbye to these characters. Despite a slow start, Hotel Transylvania: Transformania eventually finds its footing and directors Jennifer Kluska and Derek Drymon do a solid job of following the foundation laid down by Tartakovsky in the previous films.

Through these movies, it’s just nice spending time with Dracula, Johnny, Mavis, Frankenstein, the Invisible Man and the rest of the monster gang. The purpose of these Hotel Transylvania movies is not only about sending a message about acceptance, but also to fit in many funny usages for these characters. Story was never the strong point of these movies. They’ve always been about jumping the audience from one hilarious set-piece and interaction to the next and pushing computer animation to new wacky heights. The early scenes re-introducing us to the lead protagonists are a bit slow and there’s oddly a direct-to-video sequel feeling to them.

There are a few chortles, but the family dilemma isn’t that compelling and a few characters feel strangely underused. The movie finally becomes entertaining once the transformation plot starts and Johnny turns into a monster, while the monsters become human. This is when the characteristic fast pacing of Hotel Transylvania kicks into high gear. It’s fun seeing the human designs for Dracula, Mummy, etc, with Frankenstein enjoying his new look being the funniest running joke. The filmmakers even manage to create a funny bit involving the Invisible Man never feeling the need to wear clothes. The zippy animation, a trademark of Tartakovsky’s, is an especially good fit for the various ways the characters contort and deal with their transformations.

While Mavis and Ericka Van Helsing don’t seem like they will have significant roles in Transformania, they eventually get their time to shine and provide their usual moments of delight. Curiously, Adam Sandler does not return to voice Dracula. Brian Hull replaces him and he has certainly studied Sandler’s speaking patterns and Dracula voice closely, although one never forgets it’s not the star of Happy Gilmore behind the microphone. Meanwhile, Andy Samberg continues to provide the energy he has always brought to Johnny. There are the expected sentimental moments, some of which are obvious and one that hits surprisingly hard.

The Hotel Transylvania movies have mostly served as pleasant comedies with creativity popping off the screen at every turn. It marked a new chapter in Genndy Tartakovsky’s career, too, as he proved his abilities at directing animated features after years at Cartoon Network. This fourth chapter works as a suitable finale and a nice send-off to Dracula and his friends. This is a franchise that will likely be studied by animation students for the ways it allowed computer animation to go to new, more cartoony-inspired directions. It’s been a fun ten years of monster antics and while Transformania may be premiering on Amazon Prime Video rather than theatres, the humour remains intact.

Stefan Ellison