Synopsis: To reclaim their spooky family bond Morticia and Gomez decide to cram Wednesday, Pugsley, Uncle Fester and the crew into their haunted camper and hit the road for one last miserable family vacation. What could possibly go wrong?
Stars: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Kroll, Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton, Bette Midler, Wallace Shawn, Snoop Dogg, Bill Hader
Director: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon
Running Length: 93 minutes
TMMM Score: (7/10)
Review: My my, doesn’t it seem like we were just singing this theme song and snapping our fingers? It was only two Halloweens ago that the animated reimagining of The Addams Family was released to theaters and even though it took in 100 million at the box office, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee a sequel in this fickle market. However, MGM must have looked at the receipts and their upcoming schedule and figured that it was worth the bet and greenlit the follow-up almost as soon as the original was released. Good thing they did, too, because now The Addams Family 2 has arrived in time for Halloween 2021 as theaters are opening up more and also releasing this to streaming services so it can be viewed at home as a safe alternative.
I had my reservations about the first film, having come of age with the live-action films of the early ‘90s starring Raul Julia and Angelica Huston as the dark heads of a strange family of characters. My overly precious feelings were broken down just a tad by the friendly good-nature vibe created by directors Conrad Vernon (Kung Fun Panda 2) and Greg Tiernan (Sausage Party) and despite some, let’s just say it, ugly animation, it was a mostly harmless exercise in update for generational purposes. My parents’ generation had their version of the family created by Charles Addams, I had mine, now a new crop could have theirs.
The directors have returned with a sequel that scores higher because it’s less about re-telling an origin story and more about getting into the fun adventure of it all, exploring the dynamics of family (even the kookiest and spookiest) in between wild bits involving tourism throughout the U.S. Coming out of a summer in which many people re-discovered the simplicity of the road trip, it could very well speak to families that dealt with similar issues of cramped quarters and too much togetherness, while highlighting the overall value of these moments you can never get back if you pass them up.
Wednesday Addams (Chloë Grace Moretz, Suspiria) is aghast when everyone receives a participation ribbon at the school science fair. She had, after all, worked hard and believes in rewarding that effort with…some kind of prize. The sponsor of the competition, Cyrus Strange (Bill Hader, It Chapter Two), agrees and is impressed enough with her invention that swaps human personalities with those of other animals that he asks her to share the creation with him. She politely declines but it gets her thinking about her place within her own family, leading her into a glum (or glummer) state. Mother Morticia (Charlize Theron, Bombshell) thinks a road trip that forces them all to spend more time together might break Wednesday out of her funk and encourage more interaction with the rest of the family.
Leaving Grandma (Bette Midler, Hocus Pocus) behind to watch the mansion (she immediately begins planning parties and charging admission), the Addams set off to familiar points of interest on a cross-country journey. A stop at Niagara Falls means someone is going over in a barrel, then there’s the Alamo, Grand Canyon, etc. etc. all given to some kind of foible, often related to Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll, Vacation). There’s another reason why Morticia and Gomez (Oscar Isaac, Annihilation) decided to head out of town quickly…but I think I’ll keep that bit of news under wraps and let the viewer find that out on their own. All I’ll say is that it’s a plot turn and resolution we’ve seen countless times before but given an Addams twist and then another flip for good measure. No points for originality at the outset but I’ll toss some back for having fun.
If the animation has improved greatly from the first film, the voice talent has slipped a notch or two. Perhaps the voices were done differently than they were previously when all the actors could be in the same room but it has the feeling of no one being in close proximity when they laid down their voice tracks. Theron sounded sleepy enough in the first film but for the sequel it’s as if she’s at the stage where one eye is completely closed and the other has an eyebrow raised so high to keep the eyelid up just one fraction of an inch. Someone needs to call Huston and give Theron some pointers – she’s too good an actress to biff this classic vamp of a character. Moretz seems to be following suit in the snooze-button department. Even Isaac as the excitable Gomez comes across as lacking that pizzazz that makes the role such a flavor burst for any actor taking it on. There’s just a curious lack of connection anywhere and for a movie in which the main theme is bonding with one another, it only sticks out more.
Look, these are all things that adults are going to pick up on more than a kid. In fact, maybe I just need to write a review from a kid’s perspective and call it a day.
I liked The Addams Family 2 because it was funny, colorful, and I ate a handful of candy while I watched it.