Hotel Transylvania: Transformania review

Image from article titled Hotel Transylvania loses Adam Sandler, but retains his lively energy in Transformania

Photo: Sony Pictures Animation

A well-known lead actor pulling out of a franchise on its fourth entry would usually be a sign of a major downgrade – a signal that a film series has lost its mojo. For animation fans, however, the departure of Adam Sandler from Hotel Transylvania: Transformania could be a blessing in disguise. For years, major studio animation has relied on the unseen power of celebrities giving vocal performances indiscriminately. Now, quite accidentally, the fourth Hotel Transylvania is run by a voice actor: YouTube vocal impressionist Brian Hull.

Now Sandler wasn’t giving a particularly lazy vocal performance at first. Hotel Transylvania movies. Its awkward, SNLThe styling accent work suited a cuddly cartoon version of Dracula perfectly, which Hull skillfully mimics here. But the abandonment of the Drac by the sandman solves a long standing friction between his old-boy sentimentality (the previous films are largely about Drac as an overprotective single dad) and the bouncy style of series director Genndy Tartakovsky, who favors wild gags and more cartoonish poses. wild.

Tartakovsky is in fact leaving his usual role in Transformation also; it’s the first Hotel Transylvania photo that he did not realize. Instead, he seems to slip into the role of Sandler behind the scenes: executive production, co-writing and, depending on how the characters still stretch and curl, guiding the style of the comic book. . To that end, veteran animation pros Jennifer Kluska and Derek Drymon take over the directing duties. (If Sandler had triumphed in this stalemate, just assume that Allen Covert would have been hired somehow as a storyboarder.)

Kluska’s work on the recent zippy Dc superhero girls the cartoon, along with an executive producer credit to co-star Selena Gomez, could create false hopes for a greater focus on the character of Gomez, Dracula’s daughter, Mavis. Alas, this is yet another Hotel Transylvania tale of an aging father with a vision for his perfect family, eventually learning to let go of the past and accept his daughter’s stupid husband, Johnny (Andy Samberg) into the fold. Here, Drac wonders if he should leave his beloved hotel to Mavis and Johnny when he retires, whitewashing how Johnny might change locations. And at this point, even Drac’s staunch henchmen tire of the repetition. Invisible Man Griffin (David Spade), Werewolf Wayne (Steve Buscemi), Mum Murray (Keegan-Michael Key) and Undead Monster Frank (Brad Abrell, replacing Kevin James, the only great Sandler Guy to leaving in solidarity) collectively grunts that he has been asked to lie to Mavis again while Dracula resolves his problems.

Thankfully, those issues also include the movie’s most inspired wrinkle: an invention by madman Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) that turns humans into monsters, and vice versa. Naturally, Drac and Johnny are both zapped. Johnny grows a bunch of cool fangs and claws, his enthusiastic gangrene intact. The ever-cranky Dracula, meanwhile, becomes human and receives a taste of the true Middle Ages. Bringing monstrous silliness to life for three films apparently left the animators well prepared to caricature the indignities of human suffering: just like the Hotel Transylvania the movies provide introductory, non-spooky versions of the classic monsters, Drac’s seizing pains, thinning hair, bloodshot eyes, and hearty mosquito bites make for a kid-friendly version of body horror. Adult companions, on the other hand, may wince as they recognize Drac’s new limitations.

After Van Helsing’s machine broke down, eternally incompatible Johnny and Dracula traveled to South America to find the magic crystal needed to repair Van Helsing’s machine. The rest of the set follows, as Mavis understands that Johnny can continue to mutate until he is no longer able to turn back.

The character and emotional dynamics of these situations are vastly outdated, but filmmakers continue to find new physical dynamics to keep animation fresh and fun. Whenever a large chase streak threatens to turn into a de facto theme park, the film will launch a series of quick gags or wacky visual ideas, no matter how big (a cave of reflective crystals sending faces warped figures zigzagging around the room) or small (when Van Helsing has to defend his basement lab, he dresses in WWI costume and builds a marksman hole, like Bugs Bunny). Indeed, the devious, upside-down monster Johnny becomes is more fun to watch than any other. Lighting character never conceived (although, to be honest, this is also true of the human Johnny).

Whether it’s because of Sandler’s absence or the show’s natural flow, Transformation sounds like a conclusion, and sometimes a rush. Why-change-course-now, the remnants of the worst moments from other films can be seen in Mavis’ marginalization, as well as his pimping of pop music. Having Drac croon “Just The Two Of Us” sounds like a cutesy idea tailor-made for Sandler, while an early rollout of “Cha-Cha Slide” is more revolting than any of the monsters. These are among the many good reasons why the Hotel Transylvania the series is not as recognized as their Sony Animation teammates produced by Lord / Miller as Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Where The Mitchells vs. the Machines. But it’s heartwarming to see a big-ticket cartoon franchise end with animation as its real star.

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