‘Hotel Transylvania: Transformania’ Movie Review – Dracula’s ‘Monster Mash’ Goes Human

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania takes narrative steps forward, but it never fully takes advantage of its own developments. This is the fourth installment in the animated franchise with a clear love for the classic movie monsters. It’s accessible family entertainment with a sweet message that all audiences could use, but it could have been something more.

The ‘Hotel Transylvania: Transformania’ plot goes human

'Hotel Transylvania: Transformania' review Dracula voiced by Brian Hull and Jonathan voiced by Andy Samberg hiking with a backpack
L-R: Dracula (voiced by Brian Hull) and Jonathan (voiced by Andy Samberg) | Sony Pictures Animation

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation saw the group of monsters take a vacation away from the legendary hotel. However, Hotel Transylvania: Transformania initially returns to where it all began. Things were much simpler when it was only Dracula (voiced by Brian Hull) and his daughter, Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez). Things changed and are about to continue to do so.

The hotel is reaching its 125th anniversary. Dracula’s wife, Ericka (voiced by Kathryn Hahn), wants to slow down and enjoy life with him. However, the mere thought of retiring and giving the hotel to Mavis and Jonathan (voiced by Andy Samberg) terrifies the legendary vampire.

When Van Helsing (voiced by Jim Gaffigan) introduces his monsterification ray device at Jonathan’s request, the human has turned into a monster himself. A night of chaos finds many of the monsters turned into humans, leaving Dracula powerless. They must go on a journey across the globe to reclaim their rightful bodies before it’s too late.

Dracula and Jonathan go ‘Freaky Friday’

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania takes a big narrative step that many animated films are wary to take. Even the immortal Dracula sees the next chapter of his life with Ericka. The screenplay introduces the main villain of the plot: change. It’s a terrifying part of life that even the immortal vampire fears in both a personal and a career sense. Audiences of all ages can relate to this “big bad.”

Dracula and Mavis’ story is often at the center of the animated franchise. Hotel Transylvania: Transformania still includes that father/daughter relationship, although it isn’t as much at the movie’s core. This is a father and son-in-law story at heart that feels somewhat recycled from other lessons in the previous franchise installments.

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania often wants the audience to see the negative side of things just as Dracula does. Being a human is no fun and nothing is going according to plan. However, this Freaky Friday adjacent adventure includes an endearing message at its core about how people in society perceive each other. It all builds to a big climax that matches the big action set piece of Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation‘s explosive finale.

‘Hotel Transylvania: Transformania’ doesn’t fully commit to its own joke

'Hotel Transylvania: Transformania' review Dracula voiced by Brian Hull and Mavis voiced by Selena Gomez sitting at table with Mavis' hand on Dracula's shoulder
L-R: Dracula (voiced by Brian Hull) and Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) | Sony Pictures Animation

Sony sold the Hotel Transylvania: Transformania rights to Amazon Studios after the coronavirus (COVID-19) scrapped its initial theatrical plans. Unfortunately, franchise fans won’t have the opportunity to see it on the big silver screen. It’s the most ambitiously animated of the bunch, providing the biggest scale of any Hotel Transylvania yet.

Adam Sandler doesn’t return to voice Dracula, but it doesn’t make much of a difference, as Hull successfully fills those shoes. However, Hotel Transylvania: Transformania doesn’t fully commit to its own jokes. It goes to obvious places regarding the human monster switch-up when there are a lot of fun places that it could have gone. It settles for the predictable.

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania reuses the wrong gags from previous entries, bringing back familiar battle tactics that come across as a bit lazy. Overall, this installment is about on par for the franchise. Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is easy-to-digest family entertainment that aims more for the kids and leaves the adults wanting something a bit more inventive to keep them invested.

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania hits Amazon Prime on Jan. 14.

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