Wednesday 15 May 2024

Prime Time: Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (2022)

With a lot of the key figures returning, and many of the voice actors reprising their roles (I cannot think of anyone I really missed from this adventure, which may say as much about them as it does about me), Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is clearly aiming to deliver more of the same fun for those who have enjoyed any of the previous three films in the series. And it succeeds.

Dracula (voiced by Brian Hull this time around) is getting on in years, which means he will soon be handing over his beloved hotel to his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), but that means it also ends up being in the hands of her human partner, Jonathan (Andy Samberg). Knowing that his non-monster identity is a big problem for his father-in-law, Jonathan ends up volunteering for a process that will, to use the technical term, monsterfy him. That works, but it also turns a number of main monsters into normal humans, creating confusion and worry while everyone tries to rectify the situation.

The first full feature directed by either Derek Drymon or Jennifer Kluska, both having a wealth of experience in other main roles, this seems like a great way to ease into that role, considering the fun nature of the brand and the many cast members all having fun with their roles. There are three credited writers (Genndy Tartakovsky, returning from the third film, but making this one the first that he didn’t direct, Amos Vernon, and Nunzio Randazzo), and they have a great framework to work with, considering the canny casting of the main characters.

Alongside Hull, who sounds so much like Adam Sandler in the role that I didn’t realise the change until checking the credits, Samberg, and Gomez (and the focus is often on the first two as they work through the issues putting a strain on their relationship), you get fun turns from Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Brad Abrell, Kathryn Hahn, and Fran Drescher. It’s also worth mentioning Jim Gaffigan, playing an enjoyably unhinged Van Helsing. Whether they have been in all of the preceding movies or they have stepped in to take over the voice of a character, everyone does great work.

The animation style is in line with everything we’ve seen before, and there are plenty of wonderful visual gags complementing the dialogue, which makes it hard to imagine fans of this series being disappointed with this instalment. None of the sequels were particularly necessary, and I don’t think they were animated classics, but each one was enjoyably silly and entertaining. And each one presented some enjoyable horror archetypes in a kid-friendly form, while also maintaining focus on some valuable life lesson at the heart of the comedy.

A slight step up from the last film, which was the weakest (but still amusing enough), I recommend this to those who have enjoyed any of the previous animated adventures of Drac and co.


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