Hotel Transylvania: Transformania


‘…still feels cut from the same cloth as the first three films….’

Serious film scholars may beg to differ, but it is the fervent contention of this critic that the Hotel Transylvania series peaked with the third instalment, although this fourth entry in the successful animated franchise certainly isn’t the worst. It’s the first film in the series I didn’t see in the cinema; having skipped an October 2021 release date due to the pandemic, Transformania was sold off to Amazon for a reported deal worth $100 million; with the first three films pulling well over a billion dollars worldwide, it smacks of a fire-sale by Sony, keen to get some kind of cash return on the value of a rapidly diminishing asset.

The other significant chance here is that a driving force behind these jolly cartoons, Adam Sandler, has departed the central role of hotel-owner Dracula, taking with him pal Kevin James as Frankenstein’s monster, but leaving behind other members of the Sandler Clan, notably David Spade and even Steve Buscemi, whose association with Sandler goes back to 1998’s The Wedding Singer. Those immersed in the Kremlinology of Adam Sandler friendship groups may read significance into these fissures, but for better or worse, Hotel Transylvania 4 still feels cut from the same cloth as the first three films.

The previous film’s MVP Kathryn Hahn returns as Ericka Van Helsing, together with her monster-hunting father, now part of the Hotel family; people and Gothic creatures are now living in harmony. Dracula (now Brian Hull) is ready to pass the hotel ownership to daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and son-in law Johnny (Andy Samberg), but gets cold feet and changes his mind abruptly. Frustrated, Johnny uses a ray-gun designed by Van Helsing that turns him into a monster and Dracula into a human, and the two take a trip to South America to find a rare stone that can help them bond and reverse the transformation…

While not reaching the precious slapstick heights of Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, Derek Drymon and Jennifer Kluska’s film is bright and vigorous enough to pass muster; there’s an amusing musical sequence set to DJ Casper’s still potent dance anthem Cha Cha Slide, and the best set of ideas comes from Erika’s repurposing of her grandfather’s monster-hunting inventions to save the monsters themselves. There’s also some amusement to be had from the way that the Mummy, werewolf and others have to deal with being turned into humans, and Johnny and Dracula’s jungle trip allows for the usual brand of cross-generational interplay. The franchise may well end here, but in a cold, virus-ridden January, Hotel Transylvania 4 should be a cheap and cheerful baby-sitter to keep unruly kids just-about-engaged for 90mins.

Hotel Transylvania 4 is out now on Amazon Prime.



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  1. Hadn’t realised we’re now up to four in the series and happy to say I’ve skipped them all. The departure of Adam Sandler might be a reason to catch this, but not sure if I can even manage that.

  2. If I haven’t seen any of the first three will I still be able to enjoy this?

    Does Hollywood just get name stars to provide the voices here as a box office draw? And are they? Because I don’t see why pretty much anyone couldn’t do the voices for most of these animated movies. Or one person doing most of the voices themselves. Did people go to the first ones because they were Adam Sandler movies?

    • The first two are rubbish. Go straight to the third, and if you enjoy that, this might be worth a spin.

      Yes, big names seem to add allure; back in the 70’s, voice-over artists ruled, but these days it’s usually celebs or unshaved SNL comics. I think just about anyone could do these voices, but Sandler’s name seemed to bring in a decent selection of comics; Mel Brooks was in the last one. And yes, I do think the Sandler name helped launch this as a big money franchise ; 1.3 billion dollars over the first three movies.

      • How will I understand the third movie without seeing the first two? Wouldn’t that be like seeing the Boba Fett Pop-up Book Movie without seeing Star Wars?

        • What is your problem with Boba Fett? Even you must have been young once. Can’t you let the kids enjoy their Star Wars time in the sun?

          Like most franchises, each film resets the stakes with Hotel Transylvania. The third one involves the monsters going on a cruise. Contact me directly if you’re having problems understanding…

                • A facial resemblence? To who, you?

                  It’s a tough pair of gigs, but I have a duty for posterity, and by mainting the HT site as well, I cover all the bases in terms of 2052 recognition. Will be giving another careers talk in Feb if you’re interested…might learn something? Get your life back on track?

                  • I didn’t say resemblence. I said resemblance. Film Authority Makes Mistakes.

                    Actually, is “Film Authority Makes Mistakes” going to be the name of your careers talk? Sort of a “here’s what NOT to do” seminar? I will definitely tune in to that. Please provide a link.

                    • Yes. There is a ‘here’s what not to do’ section to my presentation. I was going to ask you if I could use your writing to illustrate the dangers of writing without ideas, knowledge or talent? Let me know if you’re ok with that…

                    • If you need examples of flawless and erudite prose, and criticism both engaged and engaging, then I guess you can quote brief passages from my oeuvre. They should learn from the best.

                    • They should learn from the best, and I will include some of fraggle and Booky’s work but I was going to include some of your efforts for them to laugh at for light relief. And your Charlie Chan reviews would feature in our ‘how we used to live’ section. On board?

                    • Did you wear white suits and panama hats growing up? Curious. It may be best to just direct any students wishing to pursue graduate studies to my site. I mean, they should know that there’s life after Hotel Transylvania.

                    • Well, it’s a 2022 film. Not many of these on your site so far. If we start courses in Advance Clowning, you’ll be top of the list.

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