Addams Family 2 misses what’s funny about the creepy, kooky family

The second animation Addams Family movie has big shoes to fill — but they aren’t the shoes of its middling 2019 predecessor. The target audience won’t remember this, because they likely weren’t born at the time. The Addams Family’s first movie was made in 1991. It featured the Addams Family moving beyond their 1960s comics roots and making it a feature film. A sequel followed shortly. 1993’s Families Values of Addams didn’t do nearly as well as the first movie, but it provided a model for that great rarity, the exceptional comedy sequel. This is the second live-action version. Addams FamilyThe movie is much shorter and smarter than the previous one, but it’s still funnier and more entertaining. It also deepens Wednesday Addams’ character played by Christina Ricci.

Actually, Addams Family ValuesIt is likely that Wednesday has been the focus of so much Addams Family media since then. On the old TV show, she wasn’t much more than an amusingly dour child novelty act. But she’s since become the center of an ill-fated Broadway adaptation, a popular web series booted off YouTube over copyright issues, an upcoming Tim Burton-directed Netflix series, and now the animated movies, where she’s voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz. However, by focusing on the oldest Addams child the new series is possible. Addams Family 2. exposes just how clunky and wrongheaded its take on Wednesday is — and what the animated movies get wrong about the family in general.

Pugsley, Wednesday, Gomez and Morticia Addams stand in a desert in front of a mesa and gape at something offscreen in Addams Family 2

MGM Pictures

You might like Families Values of Addams Addams Family 2.It is a smart move to take the Addamses out of their natural environment. The Addamses’ creaky home makes it easier to tell their story, and less visually appealing art direction. While the earlier sequel sent Wednesday and Pugsley off to an upbeat summer camp and placed Uncle Fester into a loveless marriage with a perky gold-digger (“Pastels?” Morticia asks with quietly withering disdain while examining his new home), the new film sends them on a cross-country vacation.

Gomez (Oscar Isaac, MVP of the voice cast) is convinced that Wednesday is drifting away from the family, though why he thinks that, given Wednesday’s trademark icy demeanor, isn’t adequately explained. Instead of giving her space, Gomez decides to bring her back in the fold by taking a close-quarters trip on an RV. (That’s remarkably close to the central dynamic in Netflix’s recent animated movie The Mitchells vs. the Machines(.) It is possible to use this framework, even with some ambiguous motivations. Addams FamilyFilm: The idea is to put them in a ring with all the non-Gothic, all-American tourist hotspots and make them interact with other tourists. This sounds fun.

This promise is kept in some parts of the film. Gomez enthuses over the grim prospect of going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, and despairs that they don’t sell barrels on site — he has to buy “300 pickles” to obtain them for his family. Pugsley, who tries to make the Grand Canyon more beautiful with explosives, causes havoc. But even those moments don’t really reflect the Addams’ ghoulish sensibilities. Conrad Vernon, Greg Tiernan and Laura Brousseau, filmmakers, reimagine the Addams as generators for all-purpose zaniness. The naïve faith in their own macabre tastes is entirely missing here.

That’s especially true of Wednesday. Addams Family 2.The film opens with her participating in the school science fair, where she tries to give Uncle Fester the intelligence and wisdom of an octopus. (It fuels one of the movie’s few appropriately gruesome running threads, where Fester starts mutating into a tentacled creature.) It makes perfect sense that mad-science is a part of the story, however Addams 2She insists on Wednesday, describing herself as an arrogant genius who can’t tolerate the lower intellects around her and feeling constricted by her status as a teenage girl. So basically, she’s reconfigured into Stewie from Family Guy

Wednesday and Morticia on the beach in Addams Family 2

MGM Pictures

Would this work for Wednesday? It could, if she has the right amount of morbidity and deadpan humor. It actually helps her to relax in this film. After all, there’s no shortage of megalomaniacal and/or smart-mouthed cartoon characters, especially children. Addams Family Values draws a sharp, funny line between Wednesday’s antisocial tendencies and the punishing hegemony of so many childhood activities: Her resistance to summer-camp cheer (and a whitewashed play about the first Thanksgiving) aligns her with other misfits.

Addams Family 2., both the characterization and Moretz’s vocal performance have a hollow ring of bland quasi-relatability. Ricci made her uncomfortable with the traditional affection as a key element of her existence. Pugsley, though less important to the plot, is still sanded into normal teenage antics. Here, he has a subplot where he tries to learn how to impress girls, and somehow his lack of appeal to them isn’t linked to his ghoulish tendencies, so much as him being kind of a dork.

This business demonstrates how well the Addams family was portrayed in 1990s live action movies and just how difficult it is to bring them back alive in animation. Oscar Isaac has a handle on Gomez’s daft ringleading, and Charlize Theron has the right vocal tone for Morticia. But the characters don’t cohere as a family unit. The movie’s idea of juxtaposing the creepy and the kooky is to have Lurch, the subverbal butler who resembles Frankenstein’s monster, unexpectedly break into a high-pitched rendition of “I Will Survive.” Rather than figuring out how to survive in the “normal” world as their inimitable selves, the movie bends the Addams characters into just another batch of lovable anything-goes cartoon characters.

There are adult fans that fondly remember the past. Families Values of Addams aren’t the target audience for Addams Family 2.This is the. (Full disclosure. My daughter, 5, thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Many children saw the movies and loved them. Transylvania HotelMovies exist already, with animated monsters and more liveliness. So why not create a new series of movies? Addams Family cartoons that echo other existing franchises, and that don’t seem to understand this clan or what’s funny about them? Addams Family 2.Feels like the perfect revenge on those wonderful camp counselors. Addams Family Values: Finally, the Addams’ adventures are reimagined as too-cute mandatory fun.

Addams Family 2.Film debuts on rental sites like Netflix and in theatres Amazon VuduOn Oct.

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