Hotel Transylvania: Transformania review: Less Adam Sandler is not a bad thing

Drac (Brian Hull) and Monster Johnny (Andy Samberg) in Hotel Transylvania: Transformania.
Drac (Brian Hull) and Monster Johnny (Andy Samberg) in Hotel Transylvania: Transformania. Pic credit: Sony Pictures Animation

Hotel Transylvania is back with a fourth entry to entertain audiences of all ages with its monstrous mayhem and comedic voice cast.

Most of the cast returns in the fourth entry except the leading man Adam Sandler. This time voice talent Brian Hull has taken over the reins of Dracula– or as Andy Samberg as Johnny calls him, “cranky fangs.”

And just like the first film, Dracula has to come to terms with accepting Johnny– but this time, it involves an inheritance.

Does Hotel Transylvania: Transformania hold up without Sandler voicing Drac? Here is our full review of the latest sequel.

Hotel Transylvania: Tranformania review

The sequel kicks off fairly quickly with an anniversary for the Hotel. All the guests and friendly monsters such as Griffin, Murray, and Frankenstein are in attendance, and Johnny (Andy Samberg) is the one putting the party together.

And of course, Drac and Johnny come from completely different generations so cranky fangs, well, gets cranky about the chaotic festivities like a boomer at a millennial party.

Drac himself has a special announcement for the anniversary of the hotel. We find out Drac plans to retire and leave the hotel to Johnny and Mavis.

But before he can make the announcement, both Mavis and Johnny learn the secret. The character of Johnny frantically cannot hold in his excitement and reveals his plans for the hotel to Drac, making Drac panic, then lie about his intentions, and he tells Johnny that legally only monsters can run the hotel.

Long story made short, Johnny finds a way to become a monster and accidentally turns the Drac Pack human. And the movie becomes a road trip film involving Drac and Johnny trying to reverse the situation.

Johnny (Andy Samberg) being zapped to turn into a monster by Van Helsing.
Johnny (Andy Samberg) being zapped to turn into a monster by Van Helsing. Pic credit; Sony Pictures Animation

A little transparency, this writer did not see the third film. But from researching audience reactions it sounds like it was not as good as the first two films. They have never been critical darlings by any means but if you look at the audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes, readers can witness a fascinating decline.

So, it seems for the fourth entry the writers went back to basics by refocusing on the original heart and soul of this series– which is the relationship between Drac and Johnny.

At its core, Hotel Transylvania is just an animated version of Meet the Parents or Father of the Bride. Only Drac is Steve Martin coming to terms with having a son-in-law. And while it might be familiar to a fault, the focus on their complicated in-law relationship proves to be what works best comedically for viewers to connect.

What is frustrating is some of the reviews are claiming the film suffers from not having Adam Sandler voicing Dracula. That is nonsense, Brian Hull did a solid job mimicking the greatness of Sandler. It was not until the credits rolled that this reviewer even noticed he was not in the credits. So, unless viewers are looking for it, Brian Hull’s voicework will not be a distraction.

Dracula (Brian Hull) with Mavis (Selena Gomez)
Dracula (Brian Hull) with Mavis (Selena Gomez). Pic credit: Sony Pictures Animation

The laughs never feel cheap or shortcutted. There are no extended poop or fart jokes that make it feel as if the writers look down on children (Looking at you Tom & Jerry).

There is a scene involving the Cha Cha Slide that drags on for maybe too long but it seems like it was placed there to get small kids involved with the film. In other words, readers with kids will probably have children breaking out moves before the adventure sets in motion.

There are only so many critiques one can make about an animated franchise that never wanted to be anything but a nutty and humorous good time for kids and adults.

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is not trying to be Soul or Inside Out. But what can be said, is even in its fourth entry, this movie is leaps and bounds better than all the Cars movies. That may not be a high bar for some readers but the effort needs to be acknowledged.

It does not reenergize the franchise or bring anything new to the animation category. But the fourth entry does exactly what it should, which is to bring clever humor and maintain a silly heart.

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania on Amazon Prime: Should you watch?

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is a valiant effort for not having Sandler and being four movies into an animated franchise. It returns to formula, refocusing our attention on the father-in-law bonding with the unconventional son-in-law dynamics.

It’s not going to bring a ton of newcomers or change the face of animation. That said, for parents looking for wholesome goofball entertainment to watch with the kids, this franchise continues to be reliable in its supply.

For more animated movie coverage, check out our thoughts on Pixar’s Soul and the animated short Forky Asks A Question— both are available on Disney Plus.

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania will hit Amazon Prime Video on January 14.

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