THE WASHINGTON POST – Think, for a minute, about the Gothic, black-and-white family of ghouls first introduced by cartoonist Charles Addams in the pages of the New Yorker, and later given flesh in the beloved 1960s TV show The Addams Family and two 1990s live- action movies.
There’s Gomez, with his pencil mustache; Morticia, with her witchy, flowing, floor-length gown; Wednesday, their death-obsessed daughter; Uncle Fester, with the cue-ball head; Lurch, the Frankensteinian butler.
They’re weirdos. Why, then, is The Addams Family 2 so … meh?
The animated feature follows the 2019 film that reintroduced this clan of oddballs – first drawn in 1938 – to a younger audience. But where the original film celebrated the individuality of the family in an increasingly conformist world, the sequel sees Wednesday (voice of Chloë Grace Moretz) believing that she doesn’t belong in her own family. To lift the family’s spirits, her parents (Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron) set out with the family on a road trip – destination Death Valley, of course – but are tracked along the way by someone claiming to need Wednesday’s DNA for a genetic test that will prove she was switched at birth with another baby.
So far, so not-weird. Just convoluted.
The first hour or so never picks up a speed beyond plodding, which is unfortunate since the movie clocks in at just over 90 minutes. The bulky, cookie-cutter CGI does the movie no favours either, compared with the more iconic look of the original cartoons and television show.
There’s also a bizarre, overt ad for Progressive Insurance that pops up in the middle of the movie.
What’s worse, The Addams Family 2 relies too heavily on silly jokes that will get a chuckle out of its youngest viewers – and maybe a few adults. (I’ll admit that Gomez doing a goofy Texas accent got a laugh out of me.)
The most ghastly thing about the whole movie?
The mainstreaming of these most outsider-y of outsiders.
Not only are the visual aesthetics off, but the film for some reason shoehorns bright, pop-driven musical numbers into this world.
Of course, everyone wants to hear the infectious theme song, with its signature snap-snap.
But that doesn’t mean that there should be a whole production number set to I Will Survive or – spoiler alert – that the film should end with a Snoop Dogg concert. (The rapper/actor voices Cousin Itt, because: Why not?)
The screenplay also incorporates filmdom’s now obligatory, lifeless smattering of youth lingo. Think: “whole mood” and “slaps.”
The film’s loopy premise is almost strange enough, at least as far as kids’ movies go, but not quite. The scientist (Bill Hader) who claims to be Wednesday’s biological father has an odd fixation with combining human and animal DNA. This leads to a few startling plots elements: a little pig-person, a bird-woman and a climactic battle featuring a mega-octopus.
And yet the shock value feels unearned, given how pedestrian everything leading up to this precipice of strange really is. A simple plea for any future Addams Family installments:
Keep the Addamses weird!