Cinema Dispatch: The Addams Family 2

The Addams Family 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing

Directed by Greg Tiernan & Conrad Vernon

It’s no secret that I was not a fan of that 2019 Addams Family movie which was ten percent Addams Family goodness and ninety percent rote nonsense, and the prospect of seeing another one was a prospect I found altogether ooky; and yes, I think I used that joke in the last review.  Then again, watching more movies at home and being pickier about what I go out to see has perhaps led to me missing out on some genuine gems as well as, let’s face it, PLENTY of opportunities to write a darn good review of a truly awful movie.  Heck, there’s a Gods Not Dead 4 floating around out there that I haven’t even bothered to watch, and the reviews I did of the other sequels are pretty darn good if I do say so myself!  So yes, I went into this expecting to hate it which is a first for a movie this year, but in a way, it feels like returning to a comfortable routine as I continue to get back into the swing of things with more and more movies coming to theaters.  Is it somehow a surprisingly effective sequel that irons out the flaws of the original while giving us something new and fresh, or is it like every other sequel to a bad animated movie; just more of the same?  Let’s find out!!

The Addams Family are going through a rough patch as Wednesday Addams (Chloë Grace Moretz) is spending less and less time with the rest of the family and young Pugsley (Javon Walton) is working on his girl problems with Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) and you can probably guess how well that’s going.  With this in mind, Gomez (Oscar Isaac) with the tacit approval of Morticia (Charlize Theron) gathers the family together for a road trip across America to see its most ghastly landmarks and hopefully bring the family closer together.  All is not as simple as it seems however as some mysterious lawyer (Wallace Shawn) along with his giant associate Pongo (Ted Evans) are chasing the family on behalf of some mysterious benefactor who believes that Wednesday Addams may not be the daughter of Gomez and Morticia.  I mean OBVIOUSLY, right?  It’s not like they look anything alike!  Whatever scheme is being concocted with those guys, Gomez and Morticia want no part of it and are tactfully spiriting their family away whenever the lawyer catches up, but it’s only a matter of time before this all comes to a head.  How long can they keep this ruse going, and will it interfere with the family fun that Gomez is trying so hard to cultivate?  What is the reason that the lawyer is after Wednesday, and could there be something to his story that the Addams family doesn’t want to confront?  Doesn’t it kinda seem like they’ve given up if we’re already doing a road trip movie by the second one?  Even Alvin and the Chipmunks waited until the fourth film for that!

“What do you think!?” “Uh… good job?” “Don’t LIE to the child, Gomez!” “We’re supposed to be encouraging!”

Well it’s better than the last one, which is damning with faint praise if I ever heard it.  The road trip gimmick, while one of the most tired premises for a sequel imaginable, means that the movie is MUCH more focused on the family itself which was the strength of the last one and continues to be a strength here.  Still, there’s something off-putting about the movie that either wasn’t there in the first movie or just became so much more noticeable in the two years since the first film.  This movie has a real mean streak to it as far as everyone else in the world and the Addams Family comes off a lot more aloof and elitist than I can recall before.  True, they are supposed to be caricatures of blue blood eccentricities, but when the movie has a Participation Trophy “Joke” that goes on for a full minute in the opening scene of the movie… I don’t know, it seems like SOMEONE had a bug up their butt while writing this and we got a more obnoxious movie for it.  Still not as obnoxious as the first one, but one step forward and half a step back isn’t gonna help this series feel any less disposable.

“Darlingsn’t it a bit early for the cowboy sequel?” “If it’s good enough for Fievel, then it’s good enough for us!”

I’d say the movie struggles to find a point, but the thing is that you don’t do a road trip movie unless you’re genuinely inspired, a la A Goofy Movie, or you just want a threadbare plot to hand a bunch of disconnected set pieces upon, a la all the other ones.  Still, when we’re talking about a movie that was as lousy as the first film, a series of disconnected jokes ends up being an improvement as the film does get the family members right for the most part.  There are things to quibble about, especially whenever the plot rears its ugly head or the family has to interact with any other human, but they do find a few fun things to do throughout the movie and the animation is at least as good as it was in the last film; on point for the family but underwhelming everywhere else.  The acting as well continues to click with this cast (despite Pugsley getting recast since the last movie), and I do think that this interpretation of the characters with the unique flairs to their eccentric personalities CAN make for a good movie and you can see bits of it throughout.  The focus is mostly on Wednesday, presumably because she’s the one who’s gonna get a Netflix show soon, but Chloë Grace Moretz manages to handle that extra screen time well with a solid performance coupled with some VERY fun ideas from the animators as to how her character moves, reacts, and interacts with the world. 

“Haters gonna hate. I get even.”

I guess the lack of discipline in the road trip formula ends up paring well with the overwhelming disinterest with everything outside of the people on the poster, but there STILL has to be a plot, and when we actually get to it it’s somehow both utterly token and ridiculously overthought; like a weird dream you try to piece together after waking up.  Plot holes are something I’ve been trying not to focus on when discussing a movie’s merits as more often than not they are merely a symptom of a much more pernicious issue, and here it’s another example of the film’s lack of discipline.  There’s nothing in that could be simply explained once that they don’t explain five times instead; each errant plot point lackadaisically papering over holes in the one before while creating new holes in the process.  The central conflict surrounding the parentage of Wednesday Addams is just never convincing as a mystery because the movie never feels substantive enough in the case it’s building; not to mention that villain’s plan is nonsensical and relies on a lot of coincidences.  If they had settled down and given this a proper emotional through-line where perhaps Wednesday WANTED to run away or gave us just ONE PLAUSIBLE reason for there to be a mystery instead of several unlikely explanations (some of which literally make zero sense like the baby switching scenario), then maybe there could have been some weight to it.  Instead, it’s a distraction just like everything else in this movie, albeit a much longer one and with fewer funny jokes.

“I ever tell you the time I was brainwashed into being an impersonator of myself?” “Please, Fester. Don’t talk about a better story while we’re still in the middle of this one.”

All of that is enough to give this a mediocre review, but what takes just a little bit lower than that is the bizarre and off-putting meanness that permeates the film; The Addams Family is a lot of things, but I don’t think Red Pilled is one of them.  Now freaking out the squares has always been a defining part of the Addams Family experience, but there’s an ugliness to these animated movies that make the whole concept off-putting; less holding up a mirror to modern society and skewing it and more like the old man screaming at clouds.  Just a few of the gems in this movie include kids obsessed with selfies, beach dudes who call a Goth girl a freak, and entitled Millennials demanding refunds.  Truly the most fertile ground for these filmmakers to comment about society at large!  VERY BRAVE OF YOU!  Heck, even something I obsessively agree with which is the kind of gross nature of child beauty pageants focuses its ire on the wrong targets and throws in a few fat jokes just to throw in another group of people this movie feels are beneath it.  Because the story is much more focused on the family with everyone else being passersby on a cross country journey, these issues don’t feel as permeated as they did in the last one which had its plot more or less driven by the normies in the nearby town, but it feels more pernicious here than it did last time with the writers having free reign to go anywhere and find whatever targets have their ire.

Certainly not the Joker Sequel I was expecting, but points for originality I guess.

The fact that it’s marginally better than the first one is hardly a cause to celebrate as it’s still obnoxiously written and looks VERY cheap outside of the designs of the family itself.  Considering how many options are out there right now, both at home and on streaming services, there’s just no reason to waste your time on this one.  As for if it’s fun for kids, I honestly can’t even tell anymore.  The last one made a boatload of money so presumably, there are a FEW kids who became a fan of this, but the harsher tone of this one would definitely give me pause to plop an impressionable viewer in front of.  I mean sure, most of those kids are also watching screaming jerks on YouTube and Twitch all day but there’s no need to reinforce that nonsense with even more mean-spirited media.  Jeez, NOW who’s the old man screaming at clouds?  Maybe I’m too old to be critiquing kids movies like they’re supposed to entertain me and for what it’s worth there ARE some moments where the jokes land and the animation is solid, but there are still PLENTY of other kids movies that are more spooky and kooky than this one and I’d recommend any of them over this mess.  I mean Hotel Transylvania isn’t THAT old, right?  I mean it’s only been out for… nine years.  Oh boy…

1.5 out of 5

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