“Hotel Transylvania: Transformania,” directed by Derek Drymon and Jennifer Kluska and airing Friday on Amazon Prime Video, concludes the series of four animated feature films that make Dracula a nervous father and the owner of a monster complex. This time around, the plot – about a beam gun that turns humans into monsters, and vice versa – seems to recognize the need to get the characters out of their inertia.
“Drac” (Brian Hull, replacing Adam Sandler), settled in with Ericka (Kathryn Hahn), a great-granddaughter of famous monster hunter, Van Helsing. Drac and Ericka’s daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) has a child with a human goofball backpacker named Johnny (Andy Samberg). Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) wanders into the hotel basement. It’s his crystal ray gun that turns Johnny into a dragon and transforms Drac and his circle of monster dads into humans.
Johnny is embracing his exuberant new form because Drac, who is generally overprotective, has stated that only monsters can take over the hotel after he retires.
But Drac, now a flightless human, misses his mojo. He and Johnny set out on a quality Scooby Doo quest in an Amazon cave in search of a fresh crystal for the now broken ray gun. Ericka, Mavis and company go hunting in an airship to help.
Giving monsters a sitcom-style family dynamic has long been the norm in large tent animation projects, but that dynamic tends to trivialize what is weird and intriguing about the characters. The series “Hotel Transylvania”, previously directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, usually makes up for it with a vivid visual imagination for its comedy, a vibrant sense of color and, of course, dance parties.
But despite a few flourishes (like a mirror-like crystal cave), “Transformania” feels locked into the mundane rhythms of its plot and makes one-note jokes from its human incarnations. It even ends with a character shrugging his shoulders.
Hotel Transylvania: Transformania
Classified PG. Duration: 1 hour 28 minutes. Look on Amazon.