Creepy and Kooky Animated Clan makes a Diminished Return

Building on 2019’s solidly entertaining animated entry, “The Addams Family 2”It’s still fun and kooky, but it lacks the warmth of the previous film, and feels less juvenile. Although the animated family is still entertaining, the story is geared towards younger viewers. It lacks a cohesiveness and fine-tuning in its storytelling.

Wednesday Addams (voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz) enters a very Addams-like project at her school’s humdrum science fair, and despite her asking parents Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) not to make an appearance, they show up, loud and proud. Wednesday discovers how to share personality traits among creatures using DNA fragments in a drink. This discovery attracts the attention and support of Cyrus Strange (Bill Hader), a wealthy tech genius.

Her school, on the other hand, prefers to award every child with a participation trophy, and as a result, Wednesday’s disappointment (and maybe a little clinical depression) makes her withdraw from her parents, especially after an annoying lawyer (Wallace Shawn) shows up with the news that Wednesday might not be an Addams after all. 

Pugsley (Javon Walton), for his part, is still blowing things up, but he’s struggling when it comes to figuring out how to talk to girls. He’s awkward and fumbling, particularly compared to his smooth-talking father, so Gomez appoints Fester (Nick Kroll) to help him out. It doesn’t go so well. With both kids growing up swiftly, and a dark cloud looming regarding Wednesday’s parentage, Gomez and Morticia decide to take the family on a cross-country road trip to the country’s spookiest sights. 

There are five credited screenwriters adapting Charles Addams’ iconically ghoulish characters, and while a team of scripters isn’t necessarily unusual (especially in animation), the film’s chaotic attempt to blend several ideas into one cohesive story doesn’t work. The writing feels segmented and episodic; rather than provide a full story, they’ve created a few connected scenes with gags that only truly work if you’re a child under 12.

Contrary to the animated version before, “Addams Family,”This story lacks the warmth that is usually associated with this quirky clan. Gomez and Morticia remain glamorous and hot for each other after many decades, and they adore their little weird bunch, but we don’t really feel it this time around. Instead of building on the emotional theme of parents and children growing apart — with one heading into adolescence while the other questions her parentage — the “Addams Family 2”Writers seem to have forgotten that young viewers are able to grasp complex emotional arcs. It’s almost like families trying to reconnect. 

Once again, the voice cast is able to immerse themselves in their roles. Isaac’s Gomez voice is every bit Gomez and prompts the question as to why Isaac has yet to play a Latino role outside of animation. Theron’s Morticia is full of intensity, dry humor, and style, bringing liveliness to one of the less active characters. Although Moretz is the star of Wednesday’s film, the film’s best moments are carried by Moretz, but the whole ensemble blends well and injects the film with the most joy.

Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon, and Greg Tiernan are back as co-directors.“Sausage Party”) don’t bring much new this time around, and that works as a detriment to the animated Addamses. Family life is about family growth and uniting. Wednesday’s focus is on her coming-of age questions. The family is on the right track. But the filmmakers need to remember that any growing pains they experience as characters will be matched by their children.

It’s clear within minutes that Wednesday’s journey is the emotional glue for “The Addams Family 2,” but no glue can stick when there’s too much lint (or in this case, distracting puns and juvenile slapstick) on the surface.

“The Addams Family 2”Films in U.S. theaters, and streaming on-demand Friday.

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