There are many words that spring to mind when viewing THE ADDAMS FAMILY 2, and few of them are laudatory. The twisted humor of Charles Addams’ original cartoon, or of the cult-classic of the 60s television series, or of the previous incarnation of the franchise are little in evidence in this dreary exercise in, of all things, the warm fuzzies. Why use characters that are the definition of mordant in a film with no bite? Was My Little Pony not available?
This time, the family is on a cross-country trip in order for Gomez (Oscar Isaac) to bond with Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz), whose diffidence to him is growing by leaps and bounds as she struggles with her feelings of being an outsider in her own home. Sound familiar? It’s almost exactly the same plot point that figured into the last film. As they make their way across the country, Wednesday finds many reasons to push her adoring family away, including forced participation in a Miss Jalapeño Pepper contest in San Antonio that is nowhere near as funny as it thinks it is even with the CARRIE call-out.
Meanwhile, Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) is transmuting into something aquatic thanks to Wednesday’s science project gone wrong, making it even harder for him to tutor Pugsley (Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton) in the fine art of making himself irresistible to girls. There’s also a mad scientist (Bill Hader) trying to lure Wednesday into business with him, and Grandma (Bette Midler) left home alone and gone wild for no better reason than to give Cousin It (Snoop Dog) the chance to belt out a rap at the end.
Narratively, it’s a disaster. Visually, though, it’s delightful, even if the occasional explosion of neon candy colors seems out of place. The voice work is equally good, with Isaac suitably exuberant and Charlize Theron as Morticia scintillatingly icy. If only the dialogue were worthy of them, or Moritz’s deadpan delivery dripping with ennui and adolescent angst. She has the best moments, though a surprise turn by Lurch (Conrad Vernon) and his cold dead hands come close. The rest is just so much piffle, obvious jokes, and wasted opportunities.
THE ADDAMS FAMILY 2 oozes along like the treacle that it is, a moribund effort that willfully misses the point of its protagonists’ very raison d’etre. Voodoo dolls and a family barrel ride over Niagara Falls notwithstanding.