Directors: Jennifer Kluska and Derek Drymon
Writers: Amos Vernon, Nunzio Randazzo, and Genndy Tartakovsky
Starring: Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kathryn Hahn, Jim Gaffigan, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Space, Keegan-Michael Key, Brian Hull
Hotel Transylvania was a really nice surprise when it first came out in 2012. It was a genuinely good family film that worked for people of all ages, and while the sequels haven’t been able to surpass it, they have all been more than worth watching. The fourth, and apparently final, entry to the series, Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, is just as good and entertaining as the previous entries, even if the replacement casting is a little jarring at points.
Transformania keeps up the same all-ages humour that the series is well known for and is fun for people of all ages. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and the plot is easy going. It’s the perfect eightyish minute film to put on during a Sunday afternoon. It’s not breaking any barriers, or going to leave an emotional scar on you like some Disney films, but everyone watching is going to have a good time. When it’s funny, it’s really funny, and there isn’t a single point where the film feels like it’s dragging or slow. While it’s being marketed as the final outing for the monsters, it doesn’t feel like that during the film. It’s about starting a new chapter and feels like there should be more coming afterwards. Only time will tell.
Adam Sandler, who voiced Dracula in the previous three films, has been replaced by impressionist Brian Hull. While Hull does a decent Sandler impression, it’s still not the real deal. His performance just doesn’t have the same zany over-the-topness that Sandler brought to Dracula, and it’s a real shame. Kevin James also doesn’t return, although his character isn’t as central as Drac, so it’s not as jarring to watch. The rest of the cast are back though, and they are all great.
The animation is exactly what you’d expect from Sony, it looks good and is polished. It’s not going to rival Pixar anytime soon, but it’s still more than decent and there’s nothing distracting or out of place. The story itself is fun and engaging, with a device that turns monsters into humans and vice versa, and the group must travel in order to reverse it. At the centre of the story is the themes of family and acceptance. Dracula and his son in law Johnny (Andy Samberg) have to find a common ground and work together.
If this is the final entry to the Hotel Transylvania series, then it’s going out on a strong note. It may not be as great as the original, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had.
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