Review of ‘The Addams Family 2: Creepier than the First

The devil is in the details — or, in “The Addams Family 2,”A sequel digitally animated for ages 6 and up. It features a demented ghoulish sparkle jokes that are both macabre yet kiddie witty enough. Consider Uncle Fester, played by Nick Kroll, who has a very goofy voice and is seen assessing the creaky brownwood camper in which the Addams are about to embark on a three week cross-country trek. “Oh, it’s a hybrid — half car, half eyesore!” Or the way that Morticia, voiced by Charlize Theron in the most musical of aristocratic purrs, doesn’t just walk but glidesIn her skin-tight, cadaverous dress that hangs from her legs, and which leaves trails that resemble black silk octopus feet, she walks around. Or Gomez (Oscar Isaac) in his Igor as-head-waiter hodgepodge Old World accent. “Tell that Billie Eilish she’s a little too sunny for my taste.” Or the way that Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz), that paragon of proto goth disaffection, says she’s been social distancing since birth. Or Cyrus Strange (Bill Hader), the mad scientist who’s trying to make Wednesday his daughter, snapping at the regal Morticia, “Oh, pipe down, Elvira!”

The first film of this series was made two years ago. “The Addams Family”(2019), was, naturally, the third big screen “Addams Family” feature, after the two live-action ones that came out in the early ’90s. It felt like the thirteenth. Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon and Conrad Vernon did an excellent job visualizing the characters back to their original cartoony style. The jokes were too safe-sounding and comfortable (the movie was much less outrageous than the original). “Hotel Transylvania”film), and the story was weak even for a little bit of cobweb camp.

It’s in the nature of most animated sequels to struggle to recapture the full charm of the original hit. In the case of “The Addams Family 2,”Vernon and Tiernan saw the sequel as an opportunity to improve their skills. The script was written entirely by a new team (Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit and Susanna Folgel). It features jokes that are more original and creepy with a more spontaneous creepiness. At a Little Miss Jalapeño Pepper contest in Texas, Wednesday, looking even more sinister under a mountain of blonde big hair, dumps red paint all over the other contestants as if this were the prom in “Carrie.”

It helps that Wednesday is the spiritual seed for characters of Lydia in “Beetlejuice”Coraline is the center of gravity. For form. “The Addams Family 2”The movie is a road-trip movie with the Addamses driving in their camper van, which inside seems almost as big as their house, to visit the Grand Canyon and Death Valley.

Emotionally, though, it’s all about the mid-tween crisis of Wednesday. She’s robbed of the chance to win the school science fair — even though, with a chemical beaker in hand, she’s like Dr. Frankenstein crossed with Pippi Longstocking. Her father thinks she doesn’t need him anymore. And a pesky attorney, who looks just like Wallace Shawn (and is voiced by him), shows up to inform Gomez and Morticia that their beloved little ghoul isn’t actually their daughter; she was switched at birth. There’s a flashback to Fester making a visit to her in the hospital nursery, where he hilariously JugglingThe infants are on hand, and it is too Fester-brained for her to bother putting them right back), which leads us to wonder: Could Wednesday be the child of Cyrus who craves the pitiless detached genius that her psycho-scientific mind can produce?

The secret of the Addams family, of course, is that they’re actually a clan of innocents. They mean well — they’re a devoted middle-class extended family — and, if anything, the rest of the world seems jaded by comparison. In “The Addams Family 2,” there’s a funny sequence in which Pugsley (Javon “Wanna”Walton, controlled by Wednesday using a rag doll voodoo doll and winning over some girls tourists with his dance moves, then pitches himself over the Niagara Falls. (He’s also a pyromaniac who literally blows up the Grand Canyon.) Wednesday is the day. “adopted”Cyrus, whose wife literally is a Bird (the stranger the movie gets the better — and that’s strange), our heroine’s ambivalence about whether or not she wants to leave her parents makes for a genuine bittersweet excavation of the Addams attitude. Wednesday is an absolute misanthrope. She says she loves other children her own age. “Excuse me, vacuous lemmings”), but beneath that punk superiority Chloë Grace Moretz laces her with just the right hint of freakish inner normalcy.

Lurch sings at the piano at a biker bar. “I Will Survive.” And that Snoop Dogg’s ingenious vocal performance as It has you thinking spinoff. The 2019 “Addams Family,”I was not interested in sitting through another one. After “The Addams Family 2,” however, I now hope that there’s an “Addams Family 3.”However, the filmmakers will continue to do what they did here: In their PG manner, increasing the ante on the cuddly bedbug madness of it all. Many of the movie’s jokes are merely benign. The best jokes are actually a scream.

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