Movie Review: "Transylmania" (2009)
For those of you who don't know, "Transylmania" is the third film in the "Dorm Daze" teen comedy franchise. The series began with "National Lampoon's Dorm Daze" which had a limited theatrical release in 2003, continued with "Dorm Daze 2: College at Sea" in 2006 which was direct-to-DVD, and now there's "Transylmania" which was released theatrically in 2009 and performed very poorly at the box office. While I can't understand why the first two didn't do as well as they should have, I could certainly grasp why this third movie failed.
These movies each featured a fairly large cast of characters, a different setting, and a plot device that was crucial to the events that unfolded in the story. These plot devices are responsible for some very funny mix-ups that occur through each film. Think the four identical luggage bags from "What's Up, Doc?". Although I wouldn't put these movies in the same boat as the comedic genius that was "What's Up, Doc?", they use the same concept in regards to plot device as a catalyst for comedic situations.
Now, why exactly did this movie fail to hit the same mark that the first two "Dorm Daze" movies hit?
1. Going The Distance
With "Transylmania", it's completely obvious that the filmmakers were trying to distance this movie from the first two. Let me clarify something, these are very misunderstood movies. You have to understand where they are coming from with the humor, they weren't aiming for anything of high caliber here. The gags here are meant to be "stupidly funny". This is not "Real Genius" or "As Good As It Gets" or "Groundhog Day", it's not that type of comedy. You have to accept these movies for what they are or you simply won't get them.
First off, they changed the title of the movie to "Transylmania", completely ignoring the "Dorm Daze 3" part of it. Oh and just for the record, "Transylmania" is a pretty stupid title. Secondly, there's no mention of Billingsley University, the college which these kids are from (as well as the setting of the first movie). Abandoning ship just because a lot of people expected way too much from the first two movies and ended up disliking it is rather unfortunate. They should have stuck to their guns for this third outing.
2. Missing in Action
As the movies progressed, more and more of the original cast began to disappear and more newcomers took their place. Why this is I'm not sure, perhaps it's due to the bad reputation that the movies were getting.
In "Dorm Daze 2", Newmar (Tony Denman) has a hot new girlfriend and there's no mention his girl from the first movie. Booker's (Chris Owen) troublesome brother, Styles (Patrick Renna), is nowhere to be found. Foosball had been replaced by new actor (Justin Whalin) who turned the character from a laid back gay guy to an over-the-top gay guy. Lastly, Tony and Claire (Edwin Hodge and Tatyana Ali) are nowhere to be found. I guess it could be argued that they didn't sign up for the 'College at Sea' program which is the setting for the film.
Now we've come to "Transylmania" and even more people are missing. In fact some have even switched roles in a sense. Foosball, Gerri (Marieh Delfino), Marla (Danielle Fishel), Booker and his girlfriend Rachel (Gable Carr) have all vanished without a trace. Even Violet (Vida Guerra), Newmar's new girlfriend, is not here.
The relationships between Pete (Patrick Cavanaugh), Cliff (James DeBello), and Wang (Paul H. Kim) have remained the same. Rusty (Oren Skoog) is good ol' Rusty. Newmar is suddenly not as nerdy and clumsy as he was before which is rather strange. Even stranger is that his latest girlfriend now happens to be Lynne (Jennifer Lyons) which makes zero sense. Just to recap, Marla and Lynne were two airheads who never wanted anything to do with Newmar, in fact, they thought he was gay. Newmar is just burning through these girlfriends.
3. Laughing Hard or Hardly Laughing?
The next biggest issue with "Transylmania" is that it's barely funny at all. Aside from a midget Dean who practically steals every scene he is in, the movie is just not funny. The jokes in this film, if you want to call them that, make the jokes of the first two movies seem amazing.
There is nothing in "Transylmania" that tops the confusion caused by the prostitute and the foreign exchange student in the first one nor everything that led up to the hilariously epic finale of the second one.
The "Dorm Daze" movies get their supply of jokes from a good supply of interwoven subplots that create confusing situations for the characters. But there was hardly any confusing situations at all in "Transylmania" . As mentioned earlier, these confusing subplots usually revolve around a plot device or MacGuffin if you will.
In "Dorm Daze", the MacGuffin(s) was a couple of identical handbags, one with personal belongings and the other filled with $30,000. In "Dorm Daze 2: College at Sea", the MacGuffin was a very expensive diamond. But "Transylmania" has no MacGuffin whatsoever.
The only confusing situations that are dealt with in this movie revolve around two of the main characters: Rusty and Lynne. Lynne undergoes an on/off possession from some evil vampires, making her seem like she has split personalities. Then there's the film's villain, Radu, who looks exactly like Rusty (and is played by the same actor). Other than that, all the other gags will leave you drifting into boredom.
4. What Could Have Been
The first "Dorm Daze" was set around an ordinary college campus, the second was set on a cruise ship, and this one has the students spending their third semester abroad in a creepy foreign country. Honestly, vampires are done with, they've been milked to death already. If they really wanted to go with a supernatural theme for the third "Dorm Daze", just set it completely around a haunted house.
Here's how "Dorm Daze 3" should have went. The characters are back from their cruise, they're spending their third semester back on-site at Billingsley University, Halloween is right around the corner and Foosball is planning a big party at a local haunted house in the area. Maybe Dante from the second movie could come back and act out his revenge on the characters, throw some funny ghost characters into the mix perhaps. Not sure about what the MacGuffin would be this time around, but I think the movie should have been something along those lines instead of what we got.
- Transylmania (2009) - IMDb
Directed by David Hillenbrand, Scott Hillenbrand. With Patrick Cavanaugh, James DeBello, Tony Denman, Oren Skoog.
- Dorm Daze 2 (Video 2006) - IMDb
Directed by David Hillenbrand, Scott Hillenbrand. With Gable Carr, Patrick Casey, Patrick Cavanaugh, James DeBello.
- National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze (2003) - IMDb
Directed by David Hillenbrand, Scott Hillenbrand. With Tatyana Ali, Boti Bliss, Gable Carr, Patrick Cavanaugh.