Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (2022)
Directed by: Derek Drymon, Jennifer Kluska | 98 minutes | animation, adventure | Original voice cast: Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Brian Hull, Brad Abrell, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Jim Gaffigan, Kathryn Hahn, Kathryn Hahn, Zoe Berri, Asher Bishop
If you make a successful animation film that makes the cash registers ring well, there is a good chance that it will soon be decided to make a sequel. If that film also does well, and there is some nice merchandise to sell with images of the main characters, then a third film is probably also in it. But when does the magic wear off? Not all studio bosses with dollar signs in their eyes have a clear picture of the dividing line between building on a franchise where there are still plenty of relevant storylines to be drawn and the milking of a completely wrung premise.
An animation franchise that many people think is past its prime is the ‘Hotel Transylvania’ series. In the first film from 2012, we were introduced to Count Dracula, who runs a hotel for monsters with great success with his teenage daughter Mavis. But then Mavis falls madly in love with lost backpacker Johnny, a human! ‘Drac’ wants to suppress the blossoming love between the two at all costs, but true love cannot be stopped. In the second film from 2015, Mavis and Johnny have a son, Dennis. Grandpa Dracula is frustrated that his grandson doesn’t seem to have any vampire skills and is also confronted with his own father, with whom the relationship does not go too smoothly. After this film, according to many, the fun was already a bit off, but creators Todd Durham and Genndy Tartakovsky developed a third film (2018), where an overworked Dracula is sent on vacation and falls madly in love with the granddaughter of the notorious dragon hunter Van Helsing.
Apparently the cake was still not finished after that film, or the makers felt that the story was not yet sufficiently completed. Because now there is a fourth film, ‘Hotel Transylvania: Transformation’ (2021), released in Dutch as ‘Hotel Transylvania: Upside down’). No longer with Tartakovsky in the director’s chair (although he did co-write the screenplay and co-produced the film) and without the voices of Adam Sandler (Dracula) and his good friend Kevin James (Frankenstein). That this really is the last part in the series is apparent from the fact that Dracula is about to announce his retirement and hand over the hotel to his daughter. However, he is thrown into doubt by the bumbling of his hyperactive son-in-law Johnny and concocts a ruse: there would be a monster real estate law that forbids the transfer of monster buildings to mere mortals. The deeply disappointed Johnny looks for a solution and finds it with Van Helsing, who has given up the hunt for Dracula and now lives in the basement of the hotel. He just made a new invention, a magical laser gun that turns monsters into people and vice versa. Johnny is thrilled with his new look, but when Dracula finds out, he tries to undo the transformation as quickly as possible.
But he backfires and turns not only himself but also his good friends Frank (enstein), werewolf father Wayne, the invisible man Griffin and Murray the mummy into their human forms. Switching from monster to human and vice versa offers the visual department plenty of room for visual jokes and that is the most important form of humor in this film, because the joke density in the scenario is not too high. But all that fiddling with the laser gun does result in the device being killed in the skirmishes. When Dracula and Johnny are told by Van Helsing that the monster-morphed humans are getting more and more beastly, they are eager to restore the laser gun, but that can only be done with a precious and very rare gem found in the deep and impenetrable jungle of the Amazon. is hidden. Along the way, the opposites slowly grow closer to each other.
The ‘Hotel Transylvania’ series has never really relied on an original or sharp plot, a roller coaster of emotions or heartwarming characters. The strength of the series lies in the visual vampire and monster humor and the colorful and dynamic energy. This fourth part also offers more of the same, although it is certainly entertaining for the youngest viewers. Attempts to give the film a little ‘heart’, unfortunately, just don’t work because they don’t feel sincere enough. The formula around Dracula and his hotel for monsters now seems to have really worked out and everything indicates that the makers are also aware of this. Time for something new!