One look at the 2019 animated reboot of The Addams Family makes it seem like the antithesis of the franchise brand. A story about a grotesque family loving one another no matter what society says is there in theory. Under the hood is where the real problems lie. That film had a garish animation style and a lack of interest in playing around with the dark comedy of prior adaptations. With all those setbacks, the film really only relies on its celebrity voice cast. Sadly, The Addams Family 2 is more of the same, albeit with minor improvements.
Hallelujah, there’s actually more than a bare-bones narrative this time! Seeing their children are growing up, Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) decide to take their family on a cross-country road trip. Along the way, Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) begins to suspect that she may be adopted. Structurally, the road trip formula is ideal for this type of thing. It’s an easy way to string together a bunch of comedic scenarios together in a barely noticeable fashion.
Some of the gags, such as Pugsley (Javon Walton) blowing up a famous national landmark, are mildly diverting. Others, such as Wednesday competing in a beauty pageant against her will, are tedious. In the neither column are bizarre gags like the implication that Cousin Itt (Snoop Dogg) and the family lion had slept together after a night of hard partying. Yeah… so the actual material to work for director Conrad Vernon to work with never quite rises above its script.
It took four writers to craft the screenplay for The Addams Family 2, and it shows. Its animation style doesn’t pick up the slack, either. Despite working on films like Shrek 2, Conrad Vernon doesn’t inject a personality into this film beyond “loud”. Movies like Hotel Transylvania have on the surface ugly designs that benefit their movies by creating their own little fictional universe. When all the characters are as butt ugly to look at as the Addams Family, they don’t quite stick out.
Bizarrely, the saving grace of this movie is its voice cast. Now I’m very against celebrity voice casting for the sake of doing so. The Addams Family 2 does make a case for it, if a minor one. Isaac and Theron have steamy (vocal) chemistry that brings to mind exactly what those characters need. Moreover, Moretz continues to just get the character of Wednesday. Nick Kroll also makes for a scrumptiously repulsive Fester. And the delightfully ridiculous gibberish Snoop Dogg brings for Cousin Itt is *chef’s kiss*. It makes you wish this cast were in a less mediocre movie.
The Addams Family 2 is hardly a terrible movie. MGM’s film caters to parents who need something to keep their young children entertained. For that purpose, I’m sure the film does fine. Yet, The Addams Family as a franchise used to feel transgressive. Dark. Dangerous as a kid. Heck, it might’ve even been some kid’s gateway into horror. The Addams Family 2 is a gateway to being mildly entertained, going home, and then forgetting about it. – James Preston Poole
The Addams Family 2 is now in theaters and available on demand.