"Hotel Transylvania: Transformania" debuts Friday. Image courtesy of Amazon Prime Video
NEW YORK, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Selena Gomez and Fran Drescher say they hope their new animated horror-comedy, Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, inspires people who might feel like outsiders to love the skin they're in.
"It's a challenge," Gomez acknowledged during a recent Zoom press conference to promote the film, which debuts Friday on Amazon Prime Video.
"It's nice to be present and be with yourself for a bit," the actress and singer said, adding she does this by taking breaks from social media. "It doesn't mean that you need to have a lot of friends and a lot of people around you to be cool -- because I have four friends, and I think we are the coolest."
"The most attractive thing you can be is yourself and not give into peer pressure, not feel like you have to be like anybody else," Drescher chimed in. "Every single day, you practice self-confidence, and loving exactly who you are and doing exactly what makes your heart sing and nothing else. Then you are on the right path to living a really successful life."
The Hotel Transylvania film franchise is about a remote European inn in which unique and scary-looking creatures go to escape persecution and relax with their families.
The fourth and final installment, Transformania, sees vampire Dracula (Brian Hull) and several of his monster pals trek to South America to find the antidote for an experiment that turned them into ordinary-looking people and Dracula's human son-in-law Johnny (Andy Samberg) into a mutant.
The only main characters who aren't transformed are Dracula's daughter Mavis (Gomez) and Eunice (Drescher,) the bride of Frankenstein (Brad Abrell.)
"I loved the new design. Johnny becomes monsterficationazized. I think that is the correct word," Samberg said. "He goes full Burning Man backpacker meets Godzilla, which I think is something I dreamed about looking like as a child."
Spade said he was happy his character Griffin, an invisible man represented in the first three movies by only a pair of floating eyeglasses, has more of a screen presence in the final adventure.
"They put out some pictures of Griffin, and I guess it wasn't what people thought because they wanted Griffin to be better looking, like Bradley Cooper or something," Spade said.
"Griffin's like this goofy ding-dong who hangs out with the monsters and is a little out of shape [and has] red hair. They were looking for more of a Prince Harry," Spade quipped.
"Griffin looks funnier because it is for kids and families, and I think cartoons should be funny-looking. I'm 100% into my Griffin."
Key said he was surprised to see what was under his Egyptian mummy Murray's bandages.
"I expected Murray to be bigger," Key said. "To me, it was one revolution of wraps, so I thought he'd be this big, fat, corpulent guy. Then, when all the wraps come off, he is this super-short guy, and he is really working the jowls. That was my favorite part. He has jowls for days."
Adam Sandler lent his voice to Dracula in the first three films, but this time around, Hull voiced the character.
Drescher said Sandler played an integral role as a producer in establishing the franchise and assembling the talent behind the scenes, but she doesn't think his vocal absence from Transformania will impact viewers' enjoyment of the film.
"Adam didn't sound like Adam. Count Dracula has a kind of imitateable voice," she noted. "I don't really think the fans are even going to notice, quite frankly."
"He does a great job at holding up his end," Spade said of Hull.
"I think Adam was doing three movies, anyway, this year, and it is hard when these things pop up. Whether you want to or not, it's hard to put it in [the schedule]. I'm glad they did a fourth, and I'm glad it worked out."
Although Mavis escapes a major magical makeover, she is the character who has evolved the most in the 10-year-old movie series, going from the sulky teen daughter of an overprotective single dad to a happily married mother of a toddler.
"It's been wonderful to grow with this character. She's tough," Gomez said. "She's always worrying and that matches my personality really well.
"I just want things to run smoothly. I understand what it's like to have differences between family members. It's nice that we are touching on such a real thing, but in such a crazy way."
Samberg said the best thing about working on Hotel Transylvania was never being told his performance was too over-the-top.
"It's so fun and exaggerated," Samberg said. "Obviously, kids love it, but when I watch, it makes me giggle just seeing the expressions and gesticulations [the filmmakers] give all of the characters.
"This time around, doing the recording, you kind of know they want you to go huge, and then they are going to push that even further with the animation. It is very freeing. You're not going to get, 'Look, Buddy, that was too much.'"
"You see the jokes written on the page and then, when they add the animation, the jokes are like three times better because there is a joke behind you, there's a joke over here. They just flesh it out so much that the movie turns into more and more fun," Spade said.
Added Key: "It reminds me of being a kid. When you were a kid, playing with your friends, your imagination went everywhere. You get to channel that again as an adult when you are doing animation. It's not only not frowned upon, it's encouraged."
Drescher pointed out that great feats of physical comedy can be accomplished in cartoons that never could be pulled off by mere mortals.
"You can do so much! It's such a make-believe world you can contort characters in ways that they could never really do in real life -- even the best stunt person couldn't do some of the stuff that animated characters can do," she said.
Now that the series has wrapped, the stars are reflecting on what made them blockbusters.
"They are just so infused with joy and positivity, and I think everyone grew up with these classic monsters, and this is a new spin on them, and it's really fun for families. I think that's why it's endured," Samberg said.
"Parents really enjoy it as much as kids," Drescher concurred. "Some jokes might go right over the kids' heads, but the parents get it and see the humor in it."
"The way that they portray the family dynamics, how spouses and loved ones and girlfriends are working off of each other, those dynamics are really well-served and super-relatable," Key added.
Spade said it is nice to be a part of "something that works."
"To have it stop is kind of a bummer, but I'm glad they all were good quality, and if that's where they have to stop, that's where they have to stop," he said.