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Hotel Transylvania: Transformania

Despite all the monsters, Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania franchise has always focused on the human emotions at its core. It started with Dracula and his relationship with his daughter Mavis, and the family only grew bigger with each film, adding her boyfriend and then husband Johnny, their son Dennis, and finally bringing in Van Helsing and his granddaughter Ericka. And yet as Dracula’s family has expanded over the course of four films, they all continue to circle around back to him and Johnny and their tumultuous relationship. Dracula doesn’t believe Johnny is good enough for Mavis resulting in chaos where Johnny ends up proving his love, and Dracula finally sees him for the good albeit weird person that he is. At least until the next film. Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is much of the same wacky hijinks, and while it’s an improvement over Summer Vacation, it once again follows the same franchise arcs for a fine if still predictable story.

It’s the 125th anniversary of the opening of Hotel Transylvania, and Dracula plans on announcing his retirement with Mavis and Johnny as his successors to take over the business. He worries that Johnny will change the hotel too much however, and delays the announcement, making up some fake real estate law that says humans cannot inherit monster property. In an effort to not disappoint Mavis, Johnny turns himself into a monster with the help of Van Helsing. Unfortunately Dracula and his friends get caught in the crossfire and are turned human as a result. Now Dracula and Johnny must travel to a mysterious cave to retrieve a special crystal in order to change themselves back before it’s too late and the effects are permanent.

Not long after Johnny turns into a dragon-like monster and Dracula turns human, he casually mentions how it’s like Freaky Friday, and nothing sums up Hotel Transylvania: Transformania better than his own words. After centuries of immortality and abilities, Dracula finally gets to feel what it’s like to be in Johnny’s shoes. And of course Johnny gets to experience what it’s like to be a monster for once, although that nearly isn’t as important as Dracula gaining a little empathy for humanity. Johnny accepts who he is and only did the transformation for Mavis, even though it was based on a lie from Dracula. He’s always been free and accepting of monsters, too. It’s Dracula who has to learn and change, again. 

 

So yeah, Transformania has Dracula once again learn the lesson to be more accepting of Johnny and humans. There are some genuinely funny moments seeing Dracula act as a human along with his friends. Werewolf Wayne loses his body hair and grows a beard, Mummy Murry becomes just an old man, Invisible Man Griffin finally becomes visible in all his naked glory, and Frankenstein ditches the stitches for an influencer makeover. Kids will have plenty of fun watching these transformations, although parents might be looking for something better to occupy their time with. 

 

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania’s transformations are cool and all, but like everything else about the film, it’s only temporary. I have no doubt that if they do decide to bring everyone back for a fifth film it will feature Dracula forgetting everything he previously learned and find another reason to distrust Johnny and humans again until some crazy scenario gets him to realize the error of his ways. The franchise has reached TV sitcom levels, and while that may be fine for young children, four movies in and it’s becoming a bit tiresome for anyone else. Perhaps it’s time for this bat to learn some new tricks.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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