REVIEW: Silly ‘Transformania’ a fun film to watch

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As the fourth movie in a decade-long franchise, “Hotel Transylvania: Transformania” is better than it has any right to be. Strong characters and a overwhelming sense of silliness make this new monster mash worth a watch, even though it feels like the whole thing has overstayed its welcome.

Without much fanfare, the “Hotel Transylvania” series has been making some pretty enjoyable animated movies and sequels since 2012. But the fourth film suffers some pretty big losses. The main creative forces behind the franchise — actor Adam Sandler and director Genndy Tartakovsky — are mostly gone, and the movie has come out direct to the Amazon Prime streaming service.

If the movie weren’t such a fun little flick, I’d make a joke about “Transformania” being a shambling zombie of its former self. But it really is pretty good, especially since it’s free to watch if you’re already signed up for Amazon Prime.

In the new film, Dracula is looking to retire and pass his fabled monster hotel down to his daughter, Mavis. But Drac can’t stand the idea of her goofy husband, the human Johnny, having any sort of ownership in the business, so he makes up a lie that only monsters can inherit the hotel.

Hilarity then ensures when Johnny gets his hands on a ray gun that turns him into a monster, and accidentally turns Drac and his other monster pals into ordinary humans.

If you’re already a fan of the “Hotel Transylvania” series, then “Transformania” should make for a really good watch. It knows how to play around with its characters and is gripped by an overabundance of silliness. It’s like the wacky button has been notched up a couple of levels, both in terms of humor and in the animation style. Characters are more loony than ever.

The story is also fun, taking the newly monstrous Johnny and the newly human Dracula into the Amazon Rainforest, of all places. And at only 90 or so minutes long, “Transformania” is not a chore to sit through. It’s a short, sweet, silly little movie.

“Transformania” is also showing its age. We’re four movies in, and creative differences caused Adam Sandler to leave the franchise. He was the voice of Dracula, the main character, and it really seemed like his franchise. The replacement voice does well enough, but Sandler’s specific energy is gone. A lot of his Hollywood friends, like David Spade and Andy Samberg, stick around to keep voicing their characters, but Sandler is a big loss.

Likewise, series director Genndy Tartakovsky, a popular animator, stepped out of the director’s chair and only provided some part of the screenplay. He might not be a household name, but losing him does cost the movie some special energy. “Transformania” is also far from the cutting edge of modern animation. This isn’t a Disney-quality movie, and it shows. But there’s no harm in a scrappy underdog of a franchise cranking out another entry, especially not when “Hotel Transylvania: Transformania” is ultimately a pretty good watch.

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Listen to a #SentinelCinema Podcast on this review at: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/hotel-transylvania-4-transformania/id1495021878?i=1000549306995

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