Coldly computer-animated 'The Addams Family 2' hits a creative wall
"The Addams Family 2" - ★ Ĺ
"The Addams Family" creator Charles Addams wouldn't just spin in his grave after seeing the cinematic abomination "The Addams Family 2," he'd rise from it and give the filmmakers plenty of scary material to use on the A&E reality TV series "Celebrity Ghost Stories."
They might be altogether ooky, but forget about creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky.
The macabre, droll sense of humor that defined Addams' original cartoons for The New Yorker magazine has been slowly eroded through a TV series, two live-action features and an animated film. (Let's skip the 1998 direct-to-video "Addams Family Reunion.")
Now, under a duo of vision-challenged directors, the coldly computer-animated "The Addams Family 2" hammers and flattens the odd, adorably repulsive appeal of its characters into a shrill, generic action/comedy pastiche of tiring chases and witless shenanigans.
Even as a wee lad growing up watching TV sitcoms, I noticed three sure signs that a show had hit a creative wall: 1. The sudden use of dream sequences. 2. Characters getting married or having a baby. 3. The cast abruptly going on an exotic vacation.
Here, family patriarch Gomez Addams (reprised by Oscar Isaac's vocal talents from the 2019 release) piles everyone into the Addamsmobile -- a Gothically inspired motor home the size of a haunted mansion -- and tours the U.S., featuring stops in Niagara Falls, Sausalito, the "Alamotel," and, of course, Death Valley.
"The Addams Family 2" begins with Wednesday (ChloŽ Grace Moretz) competing in a school science fair, during which her nutty Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) gets his molecules mixed up with those from an octopus and then sprouts tentacles for the rest of the story.
At the fair, Wednesday gets approached by a strange man, Cyrus Strange (Bill Hader).
As we discover, Cyrus believes Wednesday to be his daughter, accidentally switched at birth in the hospital room where, as it turns out, Uncle Fester juggled all the babies like bowling pins to keep them from crying.
Cyrus employs a duplicitous accomplice (character actor Wallace Shawn, with a voice born to be animated) to help him bring Wednesday to face her destiny. But she needs no convincing after her own DNA tests prove that Gomez can't be her father.
Charlize Theron reprises her mercurial matriarch Morticia in what amounts to be a moderate supporting character in a film dominated by Wednesday with her acidic put-downs, such as "Vacuous lemmings!" (The best film in the series, 1993's "Addams Family Values," also highlighted Wednesday, brilliantly skewering whitewashed American history lessons.)
Poor Pugsley (voiced by Javon "Wanna" Walton after original actor Finn Wolfhard's voice changed), still the least interesting family member, can't get a break from his eternal supporting role, although he does develop a tweener romance with a genetics experiment.
Bette Midler supplies Grandma Addams with a comically creaky voice, but Snoop Dogg's wigged-out It remains a study in linguistic obfuscation.
Just out of curiosity, why does Thing now sport an eyeball on his/its wrist band? To make his/its ability to magically see things more credible? Really?
"The Addams Family 2" at least offers a clever throwaway nod to Brian DePalma's "Carrie," but the bright, even, sitcom lighting inside the Addams mansion is just about as mysteriously foreboding as Barbie's Play House.
Near the movie's end, Gomez explains to Wednesday that the second "D" in Addams stands for "different."
The first "D"?
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Starring: Voices of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, ChloŽ Grace Moretz, Wallace Shawn, Bill Hader
Directed by: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon
Other: An MGM release. In theaters. Rated PG. 93 minutes