Hotel Transylvania 4: Trans4mania

Featuring the voices of: Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Buscemi, Jim Gaffigan, Fran Drescher, and David Spade.

Directed By: Derek Drymon and Jennifer Kluska

Where I Watched It: Amazon

English Audio Description Available: Yes

The Plot: After picking up a love interest (Hahn) in the last film, Dracula (Some dude) decides it’s time to move on from the Hotel, and leave it to his daughter (Gomez) and her human husband (Samberg) to run. But Dracula gets cold feet after realizing his son-in-law is kind of a doofus, so he makes up a reason why he can’t retire, which leads to a Freaky Friday situation where the human becomes a monster, and the main monsters become human. And because they need to bond, obviously the film sends Dracula and his son-in-law to a mysterious cave in South America, hidden deep in the jungle, as their one and only hope.

What Works: Well, I can’t begrudge the film for not having a plot. It does. I know I seem like a Grinch when I roll a steam engine right over the new Ice Age film, but the 4th entry in this equally unnecessary franchise at least maintains a core resemblance to the original, and continues to clearly and directly further the storyline of this franchise, and these characters, instead of abandoning all hope and doing what The Ice Age Adventures Of Buck Wild did.

There are moments here that are satisfying, storytelling moments that pay off in the long run, and an attempt at real emotion and connection. I’ve never been a giant fan of this franchise, but I surprisingly don’t see much of a decline in quality from film 1-4. If you accept that the first film wasn’t mind blowing, then these films seem about the same, despite that this one was dropped from theatrical and moved to Amazon.

What Doesn’t Work: I don’t need imitation Sandler. I don’t know what you guys (and I’m talking to whoever produced this movie) did to piss off Adam Sandler and Kevin James and cause them to be the only significant cast to not return, but I’m legit not giving you props, nor do i intend on even bothering to learn those replacement actors names. Not Sandler and not James are immediate distractions.

not Sandler seems to want to do an impression of Adam Sandler doing Dracula, but Not James abandons the concept of what Kevin James sounds like, and comes across more like Seth Rogen. No wonder this film got dumped on Amazon. And, in case Adam Sandler and Kevin James ever happen to google their way to this review, what the hell happened? You both have done films way worse than this, so you obviously don’t have a solid gauge of what is good within a script. What made you turn this down? It’s actually not a terrible script, and as weird as this sounds, the biggest problem are the cheap B-rate actors they hired to replace the original cast members.

If this film had just maintained Sandler and James (again, something I know seems like an odd thing to actually need), it would have been a better film, and likely would not have been shipped off to Amazon. But I suspect someone over at Sony knew that fake Sandle made the film feel like it needed to go straight to video, so they dropped it on Amazon.

Truly, a self inflicted wound somewhere, and totally avoidable. The majority of the regular cast is back (minus a few standouts like Mel Brooks), but other Sandler buddies like David Spade and Steve Buscemi continued in their roles.

The Blind Perspective: As an adult or a kid with visual impairment, mostly this film is enjoyable. If you’ve never seen a Hotel Transylvania film before, this is not a hard concept to follow. The audio description does enough for people who are familiar with the franchise, but doesn’t do a good job of reestablishing the look or monster representation of characters now in their fourth movie. That’s why I bring it up. If you haven’t seen the previous films, you won’t necessarily know who is a Mummy, or an Invisible Man until a sight gag is specific to their form. And even then, you might still be confused.

Final Thoughts: Not as egregious of a sin like the latest installment of the Ice Age franchise that retained only one original voice actor, and made the rest voiced by “I have a friend who does a decent Ray Romano”, but it still is hugely disappointing that Sandler and James could not return. If they are out for good, I pray this is the last in the franchise. I’m done with hearing random people attempting to sound like other actors simply because the studio behind the film can’t make a deal for voice actors to return. Remember, this is voice acting. It is not a massive film shoot that spans months and requires actors to go on location. It is a much easier paycheck for Sandler and James, and I don’t know what happened on either end for them not to return, but the film suffers. Hollywood, stop hiring random people to sound like other actors you don’t want to pay. It isn’t working.

Final grade: C

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