“It’s like Freaky Friday, but on a Tuesday though.”
Genre: Kid Friendly Sequels That Could Have Been Better
Release Date: 2022
Where I Watched: Amazon
Gist: Drac is looking to retire, and is planning to leave the hotel to Mavis and Johnny. But Johnny is having a big FONBAM (Fear Of Not Being A Monster) moment. So Johnny and Van Helsing come up with a plan; turn Johnny into a monster, with the help of a handy dandy human-to-monster ray! It’s got a reverse setting too, and thanks to a blunder from Drac, most of the Drac Pack are human-ified. But when the ray breaks, they have to come up with a way to get everyone back to normal, before things get permanent. Or worse…
Talky talk: Nobody wanted to completely and totally love this movie more than I did. I’ve been a fan of the series from Day One. Heck, I even have Bat Mavis as my personal avatar. But much like 3, 4 didn’t vibe with me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the characters, and the voice actors are fantastic (special shout out to Brian Hull for doing excellent voice work taking over the role of Drac. Damn he’s good at mimicking Sandler’s version.) However, this entry into the series feels frenetic with no purpose for being so.
And nobody’s sadder about that than I am. Though the start of the film is great, with the usual hotel guests and staff doing their thing, the main “gotta find the thing” plot is uninspired. While the well worn series themes of Be Yourself and Letting Go are good messages, they’re both too heavy handed and hidden in the overabundance of unnecessary, pointless slapstick. I know that sounds stupid, but well…it is stupid.
I think the problem with 4 is that the screenplay just isn’t very good. This story could have delved into the way the Drac Pack changed, the question of who they truly are, or how they fit into their world now. Instead, it’s a boilerplate action plot with nothing but the gang “looking funny” to show something’s different from the usual Hotel story. Human Drac having to deal with human problems like allergies, clumsiness, and sunburn? That should be hilarious. Instead they’re just cringy. The dynamic between Mavis and Monster Johnny? Barely touched on. Add in character interactions that serve nothing but the next butt joke or a brief reminder that these characters exist, and you get characters you root for not from what they’re going through in this film, but because you’ve known them in others. That’s a lack of good writing. Hold on; that’s lazy writing.
The Crystal Cave/Hall of Mirrors “Where is everybody?” climax could have been cut entirely without a single plot beat lost. It’s a cute gag for a few seconds but it goes on for a few minutes…and then they come back to it, making it a big “climactic” event that only serves to pad the film’s run time. Yawn. You could watch the first and last twenty minutes of this film and not miss a thing. The middle is just that uninspired and forgettable.
The 2D animation during the end credits showing the hotel and the guests (now that things are back to normal, of course) with a few Johnny & Mavis upgrades, is adorable, but it only served to remind me of the good times I’d had watching the first two films. The post-end credits scene is a title card that says The End, with a quick shot of Invisible Man’s naked, humanized butt. So yeah, feel free to skip that unless the kids you’re watching with want to see it.
Kids’ll eat up all the hyperactivity and crazy goings on. But sadly, this go-round, adults will find themselves checking their watches every few minutes. Me? I just wished for another film that brought back the magic, fun, and togetherness of 1 and 2.
Come for: Another round with the characters you’ve come to know
Stay for: Um…uh…butts? Sure, let’s go with that.