Some good things about the fourth installment of “Transylvania hotel”: Kathryn Hahn, a actress dubbing as evocative as it is on screen; the monstrous companions with the voices of David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Steve Buscemi and Brad Abrell; a joke about a lonely marshmallow (seriously); the revelation that the Invisible Man he has been naked all this time; the 94 minute duration, and its easy access in Amazon Prime Video starting Friday.
But perhaps the best of “Transylvania hotel: Transformania ”is that it comes to an end. Apparently the well of ideas for this property has dried up and they have made the wise decision to say goodbye. However, they have not managed to close with a flourish.
What started out as a pretty clever story about a father-daughter relationship, monsters, and the hotel industry, has been on cruise control since its early days and has been running out of fuel. It’s hard to shake the feeling that everyone acted out of obligation this last chance. Actually, not even “everyone”: Adam Sandler, the main star of the three previous installments as Count “Drac” Dracula, managed to retire early. Kevin James did too.
This time, under the direction of Derek Drymon and Jennifer Kluska, Drac is voiced by Brian Hull, who does a good job of approaching Sandler’s vampire number. And while the character has had three movies to get used to the idea of her daughter’s relationship, she hasn’t evolved much since the first, when she watched in horror as Mavis (Selena Gomez) meeting and falling in love with a human, Johnny (Andy Samberg). They have since married and had a child, but Johnny still feels like an outsider, and Drac still hates to accept him as part of the family. So, in this installment produced and co-written by franchise creator Genndy Tartakovsky, Drac decides, in a panic behind the scenes, not to make a major public announcement about handing over the hotel to Mavis and Johnny.
Johnny, thinking that it is his fault because he is not a monster, asks Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) to help him change. It works. It turns into a silly, scaly, toothy abomination, but it all turns insane. Drac becomes human, which for him is somewhat pathetic, like a stereotype of an American on vacation, and this raises uncomfortable questions about whether or not the transformations are a comment on the beings in the film or humanity in general. It is further complicated by the forms that Frank, Murray, Wayne, and Griffin take: one is handsome, the other elderly. Anyway, nobody cares to remain altered, and everyone has to travel the world in search of a crystal that will return them to their original form.
It’s hard to overestimate how raucous and frantic all this effort is. Even with the explosion of colors, it takes effort to maintain interest. The maniac “Transylvania hotel: Transformania ”does not seem to be for parents or very young children. Maybe 8-12 year olds can love these characters and accept whatever adventure they find themselves in, but this one could even test their patience.
“Transylvania hotel: Transformania ”, a premiere of Sony Pictures/Amazon Prime Video is rated PG (suggesting some parental guidance) from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for “cartoon nudity, some action, and gross humor.” Duration: 94 minutes. One star out of four.