Whatever creepiness, kookiness and all together ookiness that has been evoked by previous incarnations of The Addams Family is sadly nowhere to be seen in this safe-playing sequel, one that manages to bury any of the morbid humour and likeability we’d expect from the usually reliable pens of Dan Hernandez (Pokemon: Detective Pikachu), Benji Samit (TV’s One Day at a Time), Ben Queen (Cars 2) and Susanna Fogel (Booksmart).
Working with the most paper-thin of plots, The Addams Family 2 takes its macabre crew on the holiday trail in a bid to bond when optimistic patriarch Gomez (voiced by Oscar Isaac) fears his daughter, Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz), is distancing herself in a manner that speaks to more than just pubescent rebellion.
Whilst a lot of the family’s trip feels like mere excuses to showcase wild set-pieces – Wednesday enters a beauty pageant that plays out a little too closely to Carrie, and brother Pugsley (Javon Walton, replacing the original film’s Finn Wolfhard) enjoys the wide open spaces of the Grand Canyon so he can essentially test out home-made explosives – there’s somewhat of a plot driver involving Wednesday’s sudden disinterest in her family, something involving a mysterious lawyer (Wallace Shawn) and his strange benefactor (Bill Hader).
It’s all to do with a DNA test and the notion that perhaps Wednesday isn’t an Addams at all. There’s potential for a storyline here to unearth a little depth and to tap into the first film’s message of embracing your difference, but it sadly amounts to nothing of substance, with much of this sequel devoting itself to largely unfunny cutaways; mostly surrounding Pugsley receiving dating advice from Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) or housebound Granny (Bette Midler) throwing a wild party whilst the family is away. It’s incredibly simple comedy, almost insultingly so, that lacks any of the bite the live action 1990’s films managed, or even the 2019 predecessor that plucked out a few nuggets of humour amongst its mostly safe-playing mentality.
Whilst the film aims for random, exaggerated humour, it fails to land, and for a family that’s all about darkness and droll delivery – this is where Moretz shines – The Addams Family 2 is oddly far too sentimental. Even within the PG rating there’s plenty of potential for border-pushing material to come through, instead it opts for personality-free matter that’s as tragically lifeless as Charlize Theron‘s delivery behind matriarch Morticia.
Though there’s the occasional chuckle evoked, and kids without standards or expectations could be taken with its kinetic visuals, The Addams Family 2 does little to honour Charles Addams‘ original work in any of the manners we’ve seen prior.
TWO STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Addams Family 2 is screening in Australian theatres from January 6th, 2022.