By Paul Hall
The Hotel Transylvania is celebrating its 125th anniversary in this fourth installment of the popular movie franchise. This anniversary may just be the time for new management for the establishment that caters to monsters from around the world, or maybe the hotel just needs a transformation to a more hip and modern feel. Either way, Hotel Transylvania: Transformania offers changes.
With the big anniversary approaching, Dracula (voice of Brian Hull) is considering retirement. But walking away from the building he loves is a tough pill to swallow, especially when he thinks Mavis (Selena Gomez) and Johnny (Andy Samberg) will be in charge. Drac loves his daughter, but she did marry that human Johnny and, well, he is a human!
Johnny has always just wanted to fit in with this loving family, but the one thing he can’t change is the fact that he is not a monster. But that is about to change when Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) offers Johnny a solution. He can turn him into a monster with his new creation, and Johnny jumps at the chance. Of course, everything goes wrong and Johnny sets out on a trek with Drac, who is now human, to find the crystal that can help them change back. This trek is a race against the clock — if they can’t find the crystal, they will stay the way they are forever.
Clever and quick-witted, Transformania does a serviceable job of reinventing the story with characters we have enjoyed during the three previous installments. Still, the magic seems a bit muted here, as the story tends to drag a bit when the characters set out on their quest.
There is still enough here to have a good time with this effort. While it may not hold the level of enjoyment of the best animated films of the year, the humor, which steps above the level of kids, makes this a film that transforms young preteens into laughing fun seekers.
The key to the film’s success is the wildly successful cast of voice actors who bring the animated characters to life. Without their talents, it would simply be lost in the woods. Dracula, Mavis, Johnny and the whole crew just want to make you laugh.
Paul’s Grade: B-
Hotel Transylvania: Transformania
Voices of: Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kathryn Hahn, Jim Gaffigan, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Brian Hull, Fran Drescher, Brad Abrell
Directors: Derek Drymon, Jennifer Kluska