Synopsis – The Addams get tangled up in more wacky adventures and find themselves involved in hilarious run-ins with all sorts of unsuspecting characters. Sequel to the 2019 animated film, ‘The Addams Family’.
My Take – The Addams Family have a long history no doubt. Originating as a New Yorker cartoon in 1938, American cartoonist Charles Addams’ creation has been the inspiration for a hit 1960s sitcom, two modestly successful Barry Sonnenfeld directed films, a fun two season lasting 90s Cartoon Network animated series, and a musical.
Then two years ago, backed with a fantastic cast and directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan (Sausage Party) at its reigns, MGM re-introduced the property in animated feature form with the hopes of earning themselves a money machine in lines of the Hotel Transylvania series. And while the results were quite hit and miss, the film did successfully manage to rake in $203.7 million worldwide on a $24 million budget, hereby, green-lighting an obvious follow up.
Expectedly, the sequel does nothing to improve upon the original. Though the characters continue to be enjoyable, retaining the same uniqueness and quirkiness shown in the first film, the humor quotient is considerably lower, lacking in any creativity, all seemingly forced into an already weak plot.
Sure, there’s some fun to be had and the film clearly has reverence for its roots, but between the inconsistent humor and lackluster story beats, what we’re left with feels just a bit too unexceptional resulting in an uneven sequel with any heart. There’s nothing harmful about this one but there are just so many better animated films out there.
Set some time after the events of the first film, the story follows Wednesday (voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz) who has finally joined a normal school, however, with her exceptional scientific mind, she begins to feel out of place among the other Addams family members. But instead of giving her the space she deserves, her father, Gomez (voiced by Oscar Isaac) feeling that Wednesday is purposely distancing herself, decides to take the her and the rest of the family, Morticia (voiced by Charlize Theron), Pugsley (voiced by Javon “Wanna” Walton), Uncle Fester (voiced by Nick Kroll) and their butler Lurch (voiced by Conrad Vernon), on a cross-country trip to renew familial bonds.
However real trouble for the family begins when they start to get pursued by Mr. Mustela (voiced by Wallace Shawn), a lawyer, and Pongo (voiced by Ted Evans), a hulking henchman, who work Cyrus Strange (voiced by Bill Hader), a scientist who claims that Wednesday was possibly switched-at-birth and that he is her biological father.
While the first film told a story about accepting others no matter their differences, the sequel turns its focus inward on the familial unit, attempting to tell an equally heartfelt story about self-discovery and finding a place within your family as you grow up. Sadly, the film is so disjointed that it appeared as if directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan were racing to the finish line.
All bits are loosely strung together by the plot of the road trip, but the animated sequel still winds up feeling like a series of disconnected ideas shoved together into a 93 minute film. And though it seems to set up another heartfelt and comedic film, the script is constantly distracted by funny-seeming ideas that never land particularly well.
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t only take a step backward in terms of comedy. The story line itself is nothing to right about. The choice to tease Wednesday’s “true” connections to the other Addams is admittedly intriguing, especially for how eclectic their backstories are and the film’s choice to frame those questions around Wednesday and Morticia’s estranged bond, but it is all treated as if it were a big, convoluted story-line even though you can predict what would happen right away. They also make it obvious that Cyrus is a villain right away, yet they still portray it as a massive betrayal when he reveals Wednesday his true intentions.
The animation isn’t particularly great, but like the first film, I admire how the character designs all feel uniquely bizarre, again ripped right out of the original comic strips and getting moments to be themselves.
Thankfully, the voice talent is on point. With the exception of Javon Walton replacing Finn Wolfhard, the 2019 voice cast returns for the sequel and they’re mostly capable here. Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron embody a lot of Gomez and Morticia’s obsessively sincere dynamic and Nick Kroll delivers a bounty of one-liners. Chloë Grace Moretz is also back as Wednesday Addams and since these films are focused on this character she does well to carry the film on her voice performance shoulders. Conrad Vernon and Ted Evans are good with their grunts.
Sadly, Bill Hader is wasted, while Bette Midler, Wallace Shawn and Snoop Dogg don’t get much to do. On the whole, ‘The Addams Family 2‘ is a bland laugh-less sequel with lackluster story beats.
Rated – PG
Run Time – 93 minutes