Time to bid goodbye to 'Hotel Transylvania'

  • Drac (voiced by Brian Hull) isn't thrilled with Monster Johnny (voiced by Andy Samberg) in "Hotel Transylvania: Transformania."

    Drac (voiced by Brian Hull) isn't thrilled with Monster Johnny (voiced by Andy Samberg) in "Hotel Transylvania: Transformania." Courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation

  • The monster sidekicks Griffin the Invisible Man (voiced by David Spade), Frank (voiced by Brad Abrell), Monster Johnny (voiced by Andy Samberg), Murray (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) and Wayne (voiced by Steve Buscemi) liven up "Hotel Transylvania: Transformania."

    The monster sidekicks Griffin the Invisible Man (voiced by David Spade), Frank (voiced by Brad Abrell), Monster Johnny (voiced by Andy Samberg), Murray (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) and Wayne (voiced by Steve Buscemi) liven up "Hotel Transylvania: Transformania." Courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation

 
 
Updated 1/14/2022 7:18 AM

"Hotel Transylvania: Transformania" - ★

Here are some good things about the fourth Hotel Transylvania movie: Kathryn Hahn, who is as evocative a voice actor as she is in live action; the monster sidekicks voiced by David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Steve Buscemi and Brad Abrell; a joke about a single marshmallow (really); the revelation that the invisible man has been naked this whole time; the 94-minute runtime; and its easy accessibility on Amazon Prime Video.

 

But perhaps the best thing about "Hotel Transylvania: Transformania" is that it's the end. The well of ideas on this particular property has apparently run dry and they have made the wise decision to show themselves the door. Though not wise enough to end on a particularly high note.

Dracula (voiced by Brian Hull) still is having a hard time with Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) marrying a human in "Hotel Transylvania: Transformania."
Dracula (voiced by Brian Hull) still is having a hard time with Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) marrying a human in "Hotel Transylvania: Transformania." - Courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation

What started as a clever enough riff on a father-daughter relationship, monsters and the hospitality industry has been on cruise control from its early days and has been running out of fuel since. It's hard to shake the feeling that everyone was just phoning it in for this final go.

Actually, it's not even "everyone" since Adam Sandler, who was the marquee sell for the previous three as Count "Drac" Dracula, managed to bow out early. Kevin James did, too.

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This time, under the direction of Derek Drymon and Jennifer Kluska, Drac is voiced by Brian Hull, who does a fine job approximating Sandler's vampire shtick. And though the character has had three movies to get used to the idea of his daughter's relationship, he hasn't evolved much from the first movie, when he sits back in horror as Mavis (Selena Gomez) meets and falls in love with a human man, Johnny (Andy Samberg).

In the world of Hotel Transylvania, they've since married and had a child, but Johnny still feels like an outsider and Drac is still loathe to accept him as part of the family. So, in this installment, which was executive produced and co-written by franchise creator Genndy Tartakovsky, Drac decides in a backstage panic to not make a big, public announcement about giving the hotel to Mavis and Johnny.

Johnny (voiced by Andy Samberg) gets help from Van Helsing (voiced by Jim Gaffigan) to turn into a monster in "Hotel Transylvania: Transformania."
Johnny (voiced by Andy Samberg) gets help from Van Helsing (voiced by Jim Gaffigan) to turn into a monster in "Hotel Transylvania: Transformania." - Courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation

Johnny, thinking it's his fault because he's not a monster, asks Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) to help him change. It works. He becomes a toothy, goofy, scaly abomination and everything goes haywire. Drac becomes human, which for him means out of shape and kind of pathetic. It's even further compounded by the human forms Frank, Murray, Wayne and Griffin take -- one is handsome, another ancient.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Regardless, no one cares to stay altered, and they all have to travel around the globe to find a crystal to change them back so it doesn't become permanent.

It's hard to overstate just how garish and frenetic this whole endeavor is. The manic movie doesn't seem to be for parents or for very young kids. Perhaps there's a sweet spot for 8- to 12-year-olds who may love these characters, but even this might test their patience.

• • •

Starring: Voices of Brian Hull, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kathryn Hahn, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Steve Buscemi, Brad Abrell

Directed by: Derek Drymon and Jennifer Kluska

Other: A Sony Pictures/Amazon Prime Video release on Prime Video. Rated PG for cartoon nudity, some action and rude humor. 94 minutes

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