“Hotel Transylvania: Transformania,” directed by Derek Drymon and Jennifer Kluska and streaming on Friday on Amazon Prime Video, concludes the series of four animated features that cast Dracula as a nervous father and the proprietor of a monster resort. This time, the plot — about a ray gun that turns humans into monsters, and vice versa — seems to acknowledge the need to goose characters out of their inertia.
“Drac” (Brian Hull, replacing Adam Sandler), has settled down with Ericka (Kathryn Hahn), a great-grand-daughter of the famed monster hunter, Van Helsing. Mavis (Selena Gomez), Drac and Ericka’s daughter, has a child with a goofball human backpacker named Johnny (Andy Samberg). Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) roams the hotel basement. It’s his crystal-powered ray gun that transforms Johnny into a dragon, and turns Drac and his circle of monster dads into humans.
Johnny embraces his rambunctious new form because Drac, who is typically overprotective, has said that only monsters can take over the hotel after he retires.
But Drac, now a flightless human, misses his mojo. He and Johnny go on a Scooby Doo-grade quest to an Amazonian cave in search of a fresh crystal for the now-broken ray gun. Ericka, Mavis, and company give chase in an airship to help.
Giving sitcom-style family dynamics to monsters has long been standard in big-tent animation projects, but these dynamics tend to make banal what is weird and intriguing about the characters. The “Hotel Transylvania” series, previously directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, usually compensates with a spry visual imagination for its comedy, a vibrant sense of color, and, of course, dance parties.
But despite some flourishes (such as a mirror-like crystal cave), “Transformania” feels locked into the routine rhythms of its plotting and makes one-note jokes out of its human incarnations. It even ends with a character shrugging.
Hotel Transylvania: Transformania
Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes. Watch on Amazon.