Blu-ray Review: “Hotel Transylvania: Transformania


In 2012, Sony Animation struck gold when they debuted their own unique horror-inspired family movie, Hotel Transylvania. The quirky, fun comedy united the talents of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, and Jon Lovitz — to name a few. The success of the movie went on to spawn three sequels, the latest of which released last year exclusively to Amazon Prime as an “Amazon Original.” Although I did enjoy the first 2012 film, I was never able to get my hands on any of the sequels before, and so when 2022’s Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (AKA Hotel Transylvania 4) was sent to me, it was the first time I was seeing something new featuring these characters in the 10 years since I saw the first movie. With that said, I can’t say anything about the second and third entries, but as a sequel to the original, Transformania certainly feels like the stereotypical superfluous fourth entry.

One thing that never bodes well for a sequel to an animated movie is when two of the central cast don’t return. Comedians Adam Sandler and Kevin James both don’t return as Dracula and Frankenstein, respectively. Dracula is really the film’s central character, alongside Andy Samberg’s Johnny and Selena Gomez’ Mavis, so it’s kind of surprising to find the movie’s main star sitting this one out. However, this is the first movie in the series to bypass theaters altogether and go straight to streaming (which is ultimately today’s version of a movie going straight-to-video). Those not willing to spring for a subscription to Amazon Prime just to watch this fourth entry to the franchise can finally access the movie through all digital retailers or grab it on disc. Unfortunately, as the movie started, I got the vibe pretty quickly as to why Sandler and James are absent… this is basically the kind of sequel you’d expect to go straight-to-video.

Then again, to be fair, adults aren’t the intended audience for a movie like this one. While I remember really enjoying the 2012 original — since many animated movies these days really work for all ages — there’s a pretty good chance Hotel Transylvania 4 is deliberately crafted to appeal to a younger audience. With that said, Hotel Transylvania 4 finds Johnny and Mavis in line to inherit the hotel from Dracula, however Drac is having second thoughts and invents a nonsensical rule that says only a monster can inherit the hotel. Johnny turns to unhinged scientist Van Helsing who uses a ray on him to turn him into a monster. Drac tries to undo this, but accidentally turns many of the monsters in the hotel into humans instead. Events that unfold find a few of the gang hitting the road on a quest, forcing Drac to do some much needed – although entirely unexpected – soul searching along the way. This makes for some decent emotional beats that help make the movie just a tad better than it deserves to be, but its cheap crude gags and corny humor keep Hotel Transylvania: Transformania from being more than just a forgettable entry in the saga. Don’t get me wrong; Hotel Transylvania: Transformania does have its moments. It’s silly and still a little entertaining — even if adults are less of the intended shared audience this time. Brian Hull replaces Adam Sandler as Drac, and does a pretty decent job making you forget you’re not actually listening to Sandler’s performance. Still, knowing we have a bit of an imposter voicing such a now-familiar character cheapens the overall feel of the movie. It also doesn’t help that little-known voice actor Brad Abrell is taking over for Kevin James as Frankenstein. Considering that Abrell’s most known role is of the “Worm Guy” in the first three Men in Black movies isn’t all that reassuring. But with Frankenstein having little impact of the plot of this entry, it’s probably a bit more forgivable. The fact Andy Samberg is back as Johnny and Selena Gomez as Mavis certainly helps things, but Johnny seems more annoying as this stage in the story than I previously recall. The animation style is of the more hyper and spastic variety, even to the point where I felt it making me a bit anxious. Sometimes this approach works fine for the story, but overall, I felt it detracted. Hotel Transylvania: Transformania‘s content warrants the PG rating — mostly because a lot is made of the fact that the Invisible Man is naked all the time while invisible. So, when we see him in the flesh finally, we’re given several views of his bare butt, and then several shots where something is shown barely covering his naked crotch. It’s played for laughs, but the gag wears thin pretty immediately. It’s kind of interesting when Dracula becomes mortal, because he finds he can finally relate to Johnny being human and lacking any kind of magical powers. While the transforming element drives the plot in an emotional way for Dracula’s story arc, it’s ultimately used as a gimmick for all the other monster characters. The only other content to be cautious about is some mild language, especially a moment where some wolf children accidentally rearrange some letters in a “Happy Anniversary” sign to “A Very Phine As…” and Drac scrambles to stop them before another “S” is tacked onto the end there. (And for a split second — you’d have to pause it to see this — you can see the letters kind of disjointedly arranged in that order.)


Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is a pretty unnecessary sequel, but it gives fans a fourth chance to see these beloved characters together once more. I don’t know if this is intended to be a final chapter or not, but it could work well as a last entry, but is left open just enough if they decided to continue it. My opinion, though, is this is probably a good opportunity to let the characters of Hotel Transylvania checkout before they’ve officially worn out their welcome. Two out of five stars ⭐️ ⭐️

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