There aren’t many enduring intellectual properties that can trace their roots back over 80 years. Originating from a New Yorker cartoon in the late 1930s, the ‘creepy and kooky’ Addams Family have gone through many iterations, leading to a surprisingly charming 2019 animation reimagining. Where success strikes a sequel must follow, so how does a return to those masters of the macabre fare?
I’m often down on enfranchisement: where continuance of ‘the thing’ takes precedence over any qualities inherent within the thing itself. Due to its impressive longevity, The Addams Family gets a free pass here.
You would be hard pressed to claim a ‘pure’ version between the original hardcopy cartoons, the safely dark 1960s TV show, the devilishly delirious early 90s movies, and the more recent animated fare.
If anything, The Addams Family is nothing but a cypher in which to pour whatever is currently ‘other’ in order to lampoon the normalised culture of the day.
The 2019’s The Addams Family focused on young Wednesday Addams (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her hilariously deadpan efforts to break out of black clad family norms, and this 2021 sequel pushes the boat even further.
Not only is Wednesday suffering a listless ennui at her family set-up, she is starting to doubt if she is part of the family at all.
At a school science fair, Wednesday presents her science experiment where she grafts her pet squid’s DNA onto Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll, Big Mouth). So kicks off a plot with genetics playing a somewhat questionable central part.
Wednesday suspects that Cyrus Strange, a standard turtle neck wearing Steve Jobs proxy, may be her real father. Sensing a distance from his daughter, father Gomez (Oscar Issacs, Moon Knight) scoops the family into an impromptu road trip in an effort to foster familial love.
Yet Strange is on their tail, and Wednesday is about ready to turn and jump ship.
Is The Addams Family 2 Worth Watching?
That this plot is virtually identical in theme to the 2019 ‘reboot’ is disappointing. It’s no secret that since the 1990s movies and Christina Ricci’s utterly iconic performance as Wednesday Addams that the character has become the lodestone of the family.
Her elegiac sardonic mannerisms stand out from the solidarity of the other Addams’, but whereas the previous movie used this attitude to puncture the hypocrisy of a town bent on overt happy clappy supposed normality, this road trip device deflects any central message into a series of ‘aint it weird’ vignettes, lacking any roadmap purpose.
Aesthetically The Addams Family 2 has plenty of ooky to enjoy. Gomez and Morticia (Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road) are still a delightfully enamoured pairing and explosive son Pugsley (Javon Walton, replacing Finn Wolfhard) gets a lot of screen time bang for his buck.
The art department goes all out by ensuring that our favourite societal rejects have a heavy dose of gothic flair when going about a world that wrinkles their nose at them.
Sadly The Addams Family 2 is simply a grab bag of kook, lacking the central core that just about tied its predecessor together.
This makes for a fun but fleeting experience which attempts to tackle that timeless plot device of a family member feeling they don’t belong, but tying such displacement down to pure genetics.
In an age where family consists of all sorts, a plot revolving around pure biology seems oddly regressive, especially considering the natural sidestep of society that The Addams Family historically personifies.
By all means, cling on to The Addams Family 2 for the slideshow of amusement it provides. There is still a hefty dose of great gags (lumbering servant Lurch meeting his equal in Cyrus’ henchman ‘Pongo’ is a delight) but such forgettable popcorn moments left me hungry for meatier subversion.
The movie may be swept aside thanks to an upcoming Wednesday Netflix series, but whether or not it is the ugly duckling of an inclusive family of weirdos remains to be seen. Love is love, but this movie sadly seems to lack a beating heart in its DNA.
Words by Mike Record
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