The fourth and final instalment of the “Hotel Transylvania” franchise, which began in 2012, comes to Amazon Prime minus Adam Sandler, but with the addition of some monstrously heartwarming messages for kids.
When the animated action begins, Count Dracula (once voiced by Sandler, now played by Brian Hull) is on the brink of retirement. His daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and her husband Johnny (Andy Samberg) are poised to inherit the hotel, but Johnny senses that Dracula doesn’t want him, a human, running things. Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) and his Monsterfication Ray offers an answer. It turns Johnny into a winged monster, but when things go sideways, the ray also transforms Dracula and his monster friends into humans. “Being a human is the worst,” Drac complains of the movie’s “Freaky Friday” twist.
“You don’t recognize me?” asks Griffin (David Spade), the invisible man, after his human reveal.
“I have literally never seen you before,” says Mavis.
Mavis, Johnny and the Drac Pack head to a place deep in the Amazon, the only place where the transformations can be reversed, in search of a cure for their situation. “If we don’t fix you guys soon,” says Mavis. “You’ll be like this forever.”
Like the other, big screen entries in the “Hotel Transylvania” series this movie is loud and frenetic. The goofy, colorful action feels like it could be from almost any other animated movie but the characters and the fun voice work (from actors like Steve Buscemi, Kathryn Hahn, Jim Gaffigan, Molly Shannon, Keegan-Michael Key and Fran Drescher) cut through the noise.
They are all unusual characters, but they’ve found their community. They accept one another, like family does. “Transformania” highlights the family feel by allowing the Drac Pack and Johnny, characters we’ve been watching for three other films, to learn what it is like to see the world through one another’s eyes. It’s a lesson in tolerance and acceptance that feels earned, no matter how outlandish the story may be.
The life lessons are wedged between a monster mash of laughs and action, some of which parents may find headache inducing, but, like Dracula, kids should be able to sink their teeth into it.