Hotel Transylvania: Transformania: The Sandler-Free Sequel Takes the Series to a New Low
Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (PG, 88mins) Directed by Jennifer Kluska and Derek Drymon**
You know a franchise is in trouble when even Adam Sandler and Kevin James decide they’ve had enough. Remember, it was the duo who thought adults 2 was a good idea.
Even the trilogy’s biggest box office failed to convince comedians to return, after 2018’s SSummer holidays marked a definitive milestone in the quality and consistency of animated adventure laughter.
While the rest of the voice cast still boasts a wide array of talent, from WandaVision’s Kathryn Hahn to Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Fran Drescher and Steve Buscemi, they’re rather underserved by the writing trio that includes series creator Genndy Tartakovsky, who first left directorial duties to allow Cat dogis Derek Drymon and wild kratJennifer Kluska will take the helm.
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TransformanieThe main problem comes from the reduction of one of the strong points of the series – the secondary characters – to only a few lines each, as the story essentially becomes a two-handed globetrotting buddy comedy starring Drac, the Sandler’s replacement, Brian Hull, and his human son-in-law. -Johnny Law (Samberg).
Their misadventures begin when the former is persuaded by her daughter Mavis (Gomes) to let Johnny help organize the 125th anniversary celebrations of the eponymous hotel.
Determined to include everyone and put on an over-the-top show, it all goes rather pear-shaped and forces Drac to literally put out fires in order to ensure things run smoothly.
It also makes him think hard about a major announcement he’s been teasing for some time now. His girlfriend Erica (Hahn) had persuaded him to retire and turn the business over to Mavis and Johnny and “start a new chapter” of his own, but the prospect of the establishment undergoing a “complete Johnny makeover “Already fills him with dread, especially after Johnny guesses what’s to come.
So it’s fear, more than anything, that drives Drac’s replacement announcement that the hotel will add new restrooms to the lobby. Anger and disappointment ensue, particularly from the two main women in his life, with Drac attempting to explain his decision by discovering a “very old, very serious” property law that means Jonny cannot to own the hotel because he is not a freak.
Having overheard their conversation, Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) offers a solution in the form of his Monsterfication department. After a literal guinea pig tryout, Jonny is thrilled with his new look and can’t wait to show it off.
However, the reaction isn’t exactly what he expects, Drac’s attempts to reverse it go horribly wrong, and his effects begin to become dangerously unstable and potentially unalterable.
Transformanie works best in times when traditional universal creatures are taken down. Frank’s reimagining as a Joey Tribbiani-esque looker, Wayne’s recalibration of werewolf into a bearded hipster, and Blobby’s transformation into a plate of jello provide moments of genuine laughter, but they’re all too rare.
Instead, we must endure Drac’s battles with sunburn, blisters, and swamp feet, as he and Johnny travel across South America, bond, and discover each other’s “inner sticky.” . The result is a sickly sweet confection that surely spells the end of this decade-long streak.
Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.