There are few better on-ramps into the horror landscape for little kids than Hotel Transylvania, and the cast is (mostly) back for more monster wackiness. This time out, the Hotel residents find themselves switched into normal human guise by way of a mad science ray experiment. Madcap hinjinx ensue. This one is for Liz!
Is it a scary movie? Well, maybe if you are six years old. But, at the Scariest Things, we take our roles seriously as the keepers of the Gateway to the trends and tropes of the horror genre. And one of our favorite underrated and consistently silly animated series for young audiences out there is Hotel Transylvania.
It plays with the classic universal monsters who each have their own goofy hijinx and broad characterizations that keep even the adults in the audience amused. In the fourth outing in the franchise, there has been a change at the top, with Adam Sandler stepping down from the lead as Dracula, to be replaced with Brian Hull stepping into the voice behind the cape. Another big change is that franchise director and animation savant Genndy Tartakovsky has stepped aside and the new to the helm will be the feature film directing debuts of Jennifer Kluska and Derek Drymon. Tartakovsky helped write the screenplay, so some continuity remains.
Will the comic timing still be there?
Transformania revolves around the long-standing issue that Johnny (Adam Sandberg), the hapless human boyfriend of Dracula’s daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) is tired of being on the outs with Dracula because he’s human. In an effort to remedy his situation, he goes to the mad scientist Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) who offers a solution. Van Helsing has a transformation ray that will switch humans into monsters and vice versa. Johnny of course leaps at the opportunity and mutates into a goofy dragon-boy, but another stray shot ricochets around the Hotel turning all the monsters into decidedly more mundane human forms.
Dracs is now a middle-aged “dad-bod” non-vampire, and I’m sure much enjoyment will be had for the plight of each of the transformed monsters. Once it becomes clear that the effects may be permanent, the race is on to restore themselves back to their monstrous forms. If the franchise expects to continue, I’d bet on success at the other end of the adventure.
It all seems like entertaining enough fare, and the jokes appear to be par-for-the-course with the series. The movie looks as though they’ve held their production value, but will the change in casting affect the enjoyability of the film? Have the kids who loved the first few installments still be on board? (As adults, certainly now in some cases.) Other veteran comedic voice actors return, with Keegan-Michael Key, Steve Buscemi, Kathryn Hahn, Fran Drescher, and David Spade all returning in their roles. My guess is that like many successful animated franchises, this one is sequel-proof, and the previous fans and new kids will have a ball.
That includes our own Liz Williams, who has lovingly referenced the franchise on multiple occasions on the Podcast. Enjoy it, Liz!
Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania will almost certainly be rated PG, and hits theaters in the USA on October 1, 2021.