‘The Addams Family 2’ is Pure Torture for Old & Young

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CHICAGO – Sometimes sequels serve as a cinematic do-over, a second chance to fix what they got wrong the first time. Other times, they offer a chance to build on the bones of a good story and make it better. But all too often, they’re lazy cash grabs to half forgotten films where no one seems to have learned any lessons from the first outing … or have any idea what inspired affection for the characters in the first place. In case you can’t tell, “The Addams Family 2” is a creepy, kooky, wrong kind of ooky experience.

“The Addams Family 2” doesn’t have a clue what the appeal of the Addams Family is or who any of the characters really are. It’s style can best be described as off-brand Illumination. The jokes are mostly of the visual variety, and they often fall flat. And the vocal cast – which includes Charlize Theron, Oscar Isaac, Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Kroll and more – ranges from listless to the wrong kind of memorable. The dialogue is such a barren desert devoid of laughs that even the Hotel Transylvania films begin to look like comedic masterpieces by comparison.

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The Addams Family 2
Photo credit:United Artists Releasing

The animated film’s story begins with an incident at a school science fair where Wednesday (voice of Chloë Grace Moretz) has transplanted the character traits of her pet octopus into her Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll). When her parents Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) show up despite her explicit request not to, and she is awarded a participation award rather a real one, and she begins to question whether she is an Addams at all. In a completely out-of-character move, Gomez and Morticia drag the family onto a bonding road trip to America’s greatest haunts and horrors.. This serves as a flimsy clothesline on which to hang comedic set pieces that were ancient when The Addams Family was new, and which no amount of animated flailing can revive.

One of the big problems here is that these characters have almost no character of their own. Oscar Isaac doesn’t quite capture the mad genius of Gomez, and Charlize Theron is so undistinguished her Morticia seems to have rigor mortis. Also Nick Kroll’s Uncle Fester reminded me of the old “The Today Show” film critic Gene Shalit, recreating his distinct nasal whine without the critic’s verbal panache.

The plot and dialogue do them no favors, as well as keeping this uncharacteristically bland family from having anyone of consequence to bounce off of … the only outside characters are a smarmy lawyer (Wallace Shawn) and a tech tycoon (Bill Hader) who may or may not be Wednesday’s real dad. Those two are always welcome in almost any project no matter how dire, but the best they can manage is being able to slink away from the project and cash paychecks without doing anything to embarrass themselves.

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On the Road with ‘The Addams Family 2’
Photo credit: United Artists Releasing

The one halfway decent visual gag involves a crossroads, where the signs all point to notable horror movie destinations such as Haddonfield (“Halloween”) and Camp Crystal Lake (“Friday The 13th”). But this is just the type of reference liable to sail right over the heads of its young audience and provide nothing more than the slightest upturn of a smile for knowing parents. To reiterate for those knowing parents, “The Addams Family 2” is pure torture.

“The Addams Family 2” is in theaters and available through Video-On-Demand beginning October 1st. Featuring the voices of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Kroll, Javon Walton, Snoop Dogg, Wallace Shawn, Bill Hader and Bette Midler. Screenplay adapted by Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit. Directed by Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon and Laura Brousseau. Rated “PG

HollywoodChicago.com contributor Spike Walters

By SPIKE WALTERS
Contributor
HollywoodChicago.com
spike@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2021 Spike Walters, HollywoodChicago.com

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