REVIEW: The Addams Family 2 [2021]

Rating: 4 out of 10.
  • Rating: PG | Runtime: 93 minutes
    Release Date: October 1st, 2021 (USA)
    Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / United Artists Releasing
    Director(s): Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan
    Writer(s): Dan Hernandez & Benji Samit and Ben Queen and Susanna Fogel / Dan Hernandez & Benji Samit (story) / Charles Addams (characters)

Up and Addams.


When Grandma Addams (Bette Midler) says, “Time to make some money” upon waving goodbye to the family as they embark on a cross-country bonding vacation (despite the song lyric proclaiming they are “going global,” that doesn’t happen until the end credits), I laughed because it seemed like a thinly veiled joke on sequels to already rebooted IP generally being made to do exactly that. What I didn’t expect, however, was for there to be an actual advertisement about halfway through courtesy of a Progressive billboard. It’s not a ghoulish gag on Flo either. It’s just Flo with insurance copy as a vehicle crashes through its center. There’s no dialogue, context, or anything. I guess it was to maintain verisimilitude so capitalism can keep kiddos indoctrinated with “invisible” marketing.

The real narrative reason the four screenwriters (Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit got the ball rolling before two credited rewrites by Ben Queen and Susanna Fogel) put that line in is because Grandma wants to turn a profit herself by tricking rich normies into coming to the mansion with the promise of a concert headliner that she never booked. That of course means Cousin It (Snoop Dogg) is destined for an appearance since the first film already proved casting him as an indecipherable character was solely to have him lend a few songs to the quasi-jukebox musical soundtrack. And if you’re wondering how all that nonsense is pertinent to what Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon are doing with The Addams Family 2, the answer lies in its randomness.

From Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) unwittingly (and slowly) turning Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) into a giant squid to Pugsley (Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton) attempting to woo the “ladies” with his disgusting nature to a biker bar scene doing its best to conjure memories of Pee-wee Herman’s big adventure, everything thrown on-screen is done so for cheap laughs and hollow family fare thrills. Why? Because the actual plot wherein a lawyer (Wallace Shawn) makes an accusation that posits Wednesday might have been switched at birth and thus not an Addams takes up only about thirty minutes of the ninety-minute runtime. The rest consists of unprovoked explosions, music video-like hyper-cut interludes, and a full-blown kaiju fight. The Addams Family was loosely tied skits too, but they were at least contextually relevant.

Having the framework of escape—Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) are pretty much running from Shawn’s lawyer so Wednesday doesn’t consider her recent sense of “not belonging” is in fact because she doesn’t belong—allows the filmmakers to simply toss whatever they want at the wall and not care whether it sticks. Wouldn’t it be cool to go to Miami Beach? Yeah! We can joke that Morticia needs cement sunscreen because she’s so pale. How about Niagara Falls? The Addamses would totally revel in the death statistics of barrel jumping and yearn for the rush of doing it themselves, right? Add voodoo dolls, beauty pageants (although the Carrie reference was nice), and Bill Hader‘s is-he-a-villain-and-if-so-why-does-he-disappear-for-the-entire-middle-hour Cyrus Strange and you’ll be forgiven for checking out from whiplash.

The animation is fine, the casting remains spot-on (Moretz’s line delivery is truly impeccable), and the music selection is just as random as the scene selection. Horror homage abounds again, but mostly in throwaway little gags like a multi-pronged street sign with destinations like “The Overlook” and “Amityville.” And similar to the first film, Wednesday ultimately receives the best comedic set-piece of the whole when she goes full zombie to read a girl’s mind with creepy effect. More of that please. Lean into the horror trappings of this conceit rather than the attempts to inject rap music and be “hip” despite the result continuously being the whitest example of how clueless those involved are where it comes to understanding the difference between contemporary zeitgeist and extreme try-hard miscalculation.

While I could ignore the noise of the original and embrace the messaging beneath, The Addams Family 2 seems to have amplified it louder to the point of making its vacuous drone the draw. The script barely even scratches the surface of using the plot to show how families are about love more than blood and the idea of “being different makes me an Addams” comes so late that it can’t transcend Wednesday’s desire to reject conformity and remind us of our own. Nothing is focused upon long enough to be a teachable moment because the zany ways in which everything can be shrouded in eye-candy and excess probably got sold to executives as what keeps ticket sales flowing. Grandma and Hollywood got their cash. We got duped.


photography:
[1] (L to R) Chloë Grace Moretz as the voice of Wednesday Addams, Javon Walton as the voice of Pugsley Addams, Oscar Isaac as the voice of Gomez Addams, and Charlize Theron as the voice of Morticia Addams in THE ADDAMS FAMILY 2, directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. Credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.
[2] Chloë Grace Moretz as the voice of Wednesday Addams (left) and Bill Hader as the voice of Cyrus Strange (right) in THE ADDAMS FAMILY 2, directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. Credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.
[3] Nick Kroll as the voice of Uncle Fester in THE ADDAMS FAMILY 2, directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. Credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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