The “Hotel Transylvania” franchise is regularly viewed in my household as my kids habitually watch the films during the spooky season. They’ve become attached to some of the beloved characters. One can easily look at these films and conclude their audience is for young people based on the type of jokes and overall tones in its thematics, but I’ve found them to be educational on a fundamental level. They explore the importance of family, co-existing in the same space with those different from us, and ultimately the value of friendships. Yes, they utilize fart jokes, and some may fall short from their contemporary relevance, but at its core, the message is there.
“Hotel Transylvania: Transformania” is directed by Derek Drymon and Jennifer Kluska. It features the voices of Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Brian Hull, Brad Abrell, Steve Buscemi, David Spade and Keegan-Michael Key. In the film, the hotel is celebrating its 125th anniversary and Dracula, aka Drac, (Hull) has a surprise announcement for everyone! Looking into retirement, he’s hoping to hand the key over to his daughter Mavis (Gomez) and his son-in-law Jonathan, aka Johnny, (Samberg). But after getting a glimpse of what Johnny has in store for the hotel, Dracula backtracks and instead lies that he can’t hand over the hotel because Johnny isn’t a monster. Johnny decides to find a way to become one so he won’t disappoint Mavis. In comes Van Helsing whose invention may grant Johnny’s wish but comes with consequences. After an unexpected turn of events, Drac becomes human as well as his friends, Johnny transforms into a monster, but both must embark on a journey to South America.
For this fourth and last installment of the franchise, we accompany Johnny and Drac as they seek the crystal that will transform them back to their natural selves. Johnny seems to be enjoying his time as a monster while Drac is having the most miserable experience as a human. Being in each other’s shoes provided them a little perspective to their daily lives but also a different outlook on life.
I had a fun time watching Drac’s friends become human and deal with their temporary identity. Some of the funniest gags in the film come from these four friends trying to come to terms with their human characteristics. The animation isn’t glass shattering, but some of the monster designs are genuinely scary and creative. The film is well paced and doesn’t slow down one bit.
My youngest daughter, Kamila (8 years old), watched the movie with me, and she liked the film a lot! She had several laugh out loud moments during the transformation of both Drac and Johnny. There’s a dancing sequence that made her giggle, and she immediately associated the moves with popular Tik Tok dances. She enjoyed the transformation sequences, specifically hot Frankestein and when Mavis, Erica and the rest of the gang travel to South America. And by the end of the film, she was dancing to the end credit song.
Overall this film doesn’t bring anything nuanced to the genre or to the message within itself. The story is formulaic with some surprising encounters throughout the journey, But it’s put together that brings the stories full circle. It’s fun, funny, and a moving farewell to this franchise.
“Hotel Transylvania: Transformania” is available to stream on Amazon Prime on January 14.