The Addams Family 2, 2021.
Directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan.
Featuring the voice talents of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Kroll, Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton, Bette Midler, Wallace Shawn, Snoop Dogg, Conrad Vernon, Cherami Leigh, and Bill Hader.
The Addams get tangled up in more wacky adventures and find themselves involved in hilarious run-ins with all sorts of unsuspecting characters.
Returning directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan have a tantalizing idea of what to do with The Addams Family 2 in once again centering the narrative on Wednesday Addams (voiced again by Chloe Grace Moretz, continuing to nail the monotone voice for methods of torture and brainiac scientific experimentation, making the character one of her best roles even if the movies themselves can’t keep up with her), this time more detached from her family than usual while grappling with her identity and where she fits in as an Addams.
In execution (the script comes from a collection of writers, which likely explains the messiness of the whole affair and inability to get to the heart of the story), the filmmakers have decided that the best approach is a generic family vacation, which feels like something you save for about the 5th movie when the well of ideas is dry. Yes, the charming Gomez Adams (Oscar Isaac), alongside his lovingly spooky wife Morticia (Charlize Theron), has decided that the solution for a renewed semblance of unity is bonding across the USA, visiting a combination of traditional landmarks such as Niagara Falls and haunted areas like the mythical Sleepy Hollow.
Creatively bankrupt, I suppose it would still be able to work if the family (which also includes some Pugsley now voiced by Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton and Nick Kroll’s dimwitted, pun-obsessed Uncle Fester) were forced into humorous situations that weave into meaningful dialogue exchanges. Instead, there is contentment driving from location to location where shenanigans ensue (admittedly, sometimes mildly amusing) that’s primarily forgettable and try-hard set to pop music. In pursuit of the titular family is Wallace Shawn’s Mr. Mustela, who has been contracted to bring Wednesday to a place that would reveal the identity of her birth parents. Again, since The Addams Family 2 is more concerned with mining jokes from traveling misadventures, none of it amounts to much until the third act when the screenwriters switch gears to addressing the plot.
Until then, The Addams Family 2 involves Uncle Fester (who was slowly but surely transforming into an octopus for reasons I won’t explain here) passing down his self-published dating advice books to Pugsley, who tries to woo various girls on the vacation. Meanwhile, Wednesday eavesdrops on the conversations between Gomez and Morticia while questioning if it could all be true (Uncle Fester tells recounts a silly hospital nursery story explaining how two babies could have gotten mixed up) and rationalizing that maybe this is why she has always felt so different from the family. Initially, Gomez and Morticia assume it’s one of Wednesday’s schemes to get out of spending time with them, but as the pursuit continues, it becomes clear to them that something else is brewing.
So much of The Addams Family 2 is immediately forgettable, even if it’s nowhere near as lazily constructed as some of the worst animated offenders out there (it’s also impressively rich in CGI detail and pleasant to look at). One would assume a freewheeling approach rather than conventional storytelling would function as a breath of fresh air, but none of it is in service to the characters, rather what hijinks the filmmakers can write the family into at sites like Miami Beach.
The movie does fare better as Bill Hader’s Cyrus is introduced, an identifiably nefarious scientist that could be Wednesday’s actual father. Of course, all of this is predictable, but if The Addams Family 2 had bothered to explore that dynamic and pry into what belonging means to Wednesday (as the story initially proposes) rather than turn its back on that intriguing idea for shoulder-shrugging vacation pratfalls, there would be something worth investing in. These voice actors are precise for the roles and deserve an Addams Family movie with value. Here’s hoping the third time casts a spell.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com