The Addams Family 2 (2021) Review
A SHALLOW ANIMATED SEQUEL
In 2019, MGM Studios released the animated film The Addams Family, a CGI cartoon film that was based on the iconic “creepy and kooky” macabre family from the classic TV show. Directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tierman, the film, which starred the voice talents Charlize Theron, Oscar Isaac, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Finn Wolfhard, tells the story of the Addams family, who move into an abandoned, derelict asylum in New Jersey, and make into their home; struggling to maintain their strange and bizarre lifestyle when Wednesday ventures into the world outside and invites change into the Addams’s life. The Addams Family faced mixed reviews, with some moviegoers and critics criticized the feature’s subpar animation and narrative elements, but praise the film for its character design and voiceover performances. The movie went on to have a modest box office run; gaining over $203 million worldwide against its $23 million production budget. Now, roughly two years after the release of the 2019 animated film, MGM Studios and directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tierman return to this iconic spooky family for the follow-up sequel…..adequately called The Addams Family 2. Does this next installment bring to scares and humor to this peculiar family or is it just an animated farce that doesn’t go anywhere?
Wednesday Addams (Chloe Grace Moretz) has always felt out of place within her family. Brilliant within her own right and a gifted scientific genius, the young girl feels like she doesn’t belong, watching her brother, Pugsley (Javon Walton) become more of a physical force of nature with his pyro-explosions and adolescent romance, while her parents, Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron), remain dedicated to their love, especially with anything grotesque and macabre. While experimenting with a DNA-altering serum at a local science fair, Wednesday catches the attention of rich scientist engineer, Cyrus Strange. Sensing his daughter is pulling away from the rest of the Addams clan, Gomez plans a road trip for the family, packing up a camper and setting out to see the United States. During the cross-country adventure, the household is tailed by Strange’s lawyer, Mr. Mustela (Wallace Shawn), who wants to collect Wednesday and bring her to the science icon, informing the girl who’s felt at home with her family that Cyrus Strange is her real father. As the misadventure of the Addams continues on their trip, Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) begins to feel strange; feeling the side-effects of Wednesday’s DNA-altering serum.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
As I’ve stated before, I’ve always been a big fan of animated movies, especially ones that can transcend the cartoon atmospheric nature and be liked by both kids and adults alike. I’m not saying to be mature or have innuendo jokes and gags for adult audiences out there, but the movie needs to have that “spark” of animation delight; balancing vibrant color imagery, solid, talented voice casting, and storytelling narration. While juggernaut studios like Disney and Pixar share lead the charge in those top-tier categories, other animated movies still have a chance to shine in other own respective way. Case in point…2019’s Addams Family. I personally liked the movie. Yes, I loved how the movie portrayed the iconic “spooky” family for a new generation, keeping up the appearance of the strange and macabre ways. I did have a problem with the actual animation of the feature, which (compared to other animated studios releases) felt dated, but the character designs were good, and the voice talents were solid. I personally loved Moretz and Theron in their respective roles of Wednesday and Morticia Addams. Additionally, given its paltry production budget, it wasn’t a big or financial risk in creating such an animated film endeavor and the end result for the project turned a modest profit for the studio. In the end, I look at 2019’s The Addams Family was what it is…..an updated animated tale that gets its point across and has its fair share of humorous bits amongst its solid voice talents from these iconic character.
This brings me back to talking about The Addams Family 2, a 2021 animated film and the sequel to the 2019 feature. As mentioned in my review for 2019 film, I liked the movie and would love to see a sequel materialize as I believed that there was enough substance and material for a potential continuation / franchise to be built upon. Heck, The Addams Family has seeing various attempts throughout the years in both live-action televisions and cartoon episodic adventures, so…. that potential is there. Thus, when it was announced (sometime after the theatrical release of the 2019 animated film) that a sequel was being planned, I was looking forward to seeing it, with a release date tentative set for Fall of 2021. After that, I really didn’t hear much about the project for quite some time…. until a few months back, when the sequel movie first showcased its marketing campaign within its various formats, including the film’s movie trailers. From them alone, the sequel looked a bit “spotty” as the whole “road trip” angle didn’t feel like it was going to fit the Addams Family narrative. Still, I was a bit optimistic about this upcoming project and I did like that most of the original voice talents were returning. Thus, I decided to check out the movie during its opening weekend in October of 2021. I did delay doing my review for this film as I got a little bit pre-occupied by other more prominent features out there (i.e., No Time to Die, The Last Duel, Dune, etc.). So, with those films out of the way, I now finally have time to share my thoughts on The Addams Family 2. And what did I think of it? Well, it was okay, but I was more on the disappointed side of things. While some bits work, The Addams Family 2 ends up being a shallow and aimless animated sequel endeavor that doesn’t go anywhere. There’s a couple of redeeming qualities, but not much.
The Addams Family 2 is directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tierman, the two co-directors pairing that helmed the first Addams Family movie back in 2019, with their credits consisting of various roles, while the first directorial collaboration was the adult oriented Sausage Party in 2016. Thus, giving their familiarity with working with each other as well as the Addams Family property, it seems like a logical choice for both Vernon and Tierman to helm this sequel. Because of this the duo directors seem to jump right into the movie (head first), with the movie relatively having the same “look and feel” to the 2019 animated feature. Thus, there is a good continuity feeling throughout the movie; bridging The Addams Family 2 with its predecessor counterpart and slightly tweaking this new movie between the two in a few areas. As to be expected, Vernon and Tierman have fun with this sequel; continuing to utilize the classic Addams Family tropes for the sequel, but also creating several deeper morals to be had in the feature. The idea of finding oneself and the involvement of family are rooted in The Addams Family 2 and, while it might get a big bogged down within its goofy angst and several gag jokes, it is a fundamental message to learn, which can be extrapolated for all viewers out there….regardless of young or old. While the film’s narrative is a bit on the wonky side (more on that below), the movie does have a very lean runtime, with the feature clocking in at around 93 minutes (one hour and thirty-three minutes). Thus, despite what one person might think of this movie (good or bad), The Addams Family 2 does have breezy runtime.
Presentation-wise, I think that The Addams Family 2 did improve upon its predecessor….in terms of animation style and textures. One of the biggest criticism that I had with the 2019 Addams Family film was the fact that the animation for the feature looked dated, especially compared to other animated studio releases out there. Thankfully, this sequel’s animation is a lot better than what previously rendered in the first Addams Family feature. Colors are still vibrant and bright, but the actually detail in the various textures have a sort of improved “quality of life”. I still love the various character designs for each and every single character in the movie, which (like the movie itself) are rendered / projected in a much better way that the previous film; finding each character to have their own distinct look. Like before, the character designs for the film aren’t hyper really with looks of proportioned bodies and heads, but I think that this works in the movie’s visual appealing than others, with The Addams Family 2 showcasing more various side characters (different facial looks and body types) in the film, which gives a unique swagger and differentiate itself from other animated movies out there. Thus, I do have to thank all the animators on the project as well as Kathleen Shugrue and Chris Souza (art direction) for their efforts in making the film’s visual art style coming alive whenever on-screen. Again, it’s not something to be “wowed” over, especially compared to a Disney or Pixar animated feature film, but (as mentioned) it’s a step in the right direction and an improvement upon the first Addams Family. Lastly, the film’s score, which was composed by Jeff and Mychael Danna, is solid, with a musical composition that befits a animated film like this, with a mixture of a few songs selections scattered throughout the movie…for extra flavor.
Unfortunately, The Addams Family 2 isn’t quite the sequel that was intended to be, with the film suffering from several glaring criticism that hold the feature back. Perhaps the most problematic one of the entire bunch is the simple fact that the movie isn’t that good. How so? Well, despite its attempts, the film’s narrative isn’t that strong and struggles to find a proper balance of story, humor, and heart. Yes, all three of those instrumental beats are present in the feature, but they never harmonizes equally with each other; resulting in an animated sequel that doesn’t go anywhere and ends up being redundant and generic to the touch. Perhaps one reason for this lies in the film’s script, which was penned by Dan Hermandez, Benji Samit, Ben Queen, and Susanna Fogel. The main bulk / plot of the movie is indeed a road trip angle, seeing the Addams family interact with various locations and points of interest across the USA. It’s definitely a proven narrative (as mentioned above), but there just something that isn’t quite right about that particular narrative found within an Addams Family movie. Thus, this sort of “fish out of water” narrative / road trip for this sequel just seems wonky right from the get-go and never really finds a proper rhythm within its narrative context. It all just seems quite bland and charmless; forgoing something unique and different (of which the movie’s story could’ve been) and instead chooses a few cheap laughs and sight-gags. Even the movie’s “switched at birth” angle seems tiresome and has been done many times before, with the scenario playing out in The Addams Family 2 in a very lackadaisical fashion. Again, wasting an opportunity and potential for some cheap digs and laughs that really don’t amount to much.
In conjunction with that idea, the story of The Addams Family 2 doesn’t really feel like something that an Addams Family motif. What do I mean? Well, the whole road trip and “switched at birth” doesn’t really feel like an Addams Family narrative cog and ultimately feels like it’s an idea from a scrapped animated film that was wedged into the Addams Family sequel. Plus, have the fun of the Addams Family (in all variations) is their spooky domicile dwelling. Seeing the ghastly family running around their house and workings throughout their daily life was always fun and unique, especially like in the first animated film, which made the house itself almost like a character. Thus, taking that piece out of the equation for The Addams Family 2 seems very awkward and looses part of the charm….at least in my opinion. There is a mobile home that the family travels around the US on their road trip, but it doesn’t have the same charm as the “creepy” house where the Addams make their residence at. Even the film’s ending feels so unnatural, with the climatic part of the third act tries to go “big” with giant monster and becomes so mundane and goofy that it doesn’t jive well with the rest of the movie. Heck, the whole third act of The Addams Family 2 seems shoehorned in that (again) feels like it was a scrapped idea from another movie and tried to fit into the Addams Family property.
The humor is a bit of “hit or miss”, but I did chuckle a few times here and there throughout the movie. Of course, The Addams Family (regardless of live-action or animated) have always been known for the pun references in how they perceive “normal” within their macabre lifestyle, so I kind of expected that. That being said, the jokes and gags are a bit “lower based” style of humor and never quite stick their landing, which is disappointing. So, who is to blame? Well, of course, the script for the film part of the reason, with what’s presented seems trivial and underdeveloped, which is clear from the start and the film’s narrative struggling to find a proper balance of character and story. However, another portion of that is from Vernon and Tierman’s direction for the feature; rendering the sequel in a middling endeavor and bringing a sense of shallow attempts for the proceedings. The intent for creating something special and unique for the film is there, but how it is presented and executed in the final presentation is rather bland and formulaic….as if The Addams Family 2 is running on autopilot.
The cast in The Addams Family 2 is perhaps one of the best and redeeming qualities that this sequel has to offer, especially since most of the voice talents from the first film return to reprise their character roles. The downside, however, is that some of the characters’ journeys / development in the movie are a bit redundant or only surface level. Perhaps the only character that actually evolves and grows in the narrative is in the character of Wednesday, who is once again played by actress Chloe Grace Moretz. Known for her roles in Kick-Ass, If I Stay, and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Moretz, much like the previous film, gets to do much of the heavy lifting in the feature, with Wednesday Addams is at the center of the narrative. It definitely works and Moretz certainly handles herself well; playing up the highly keen, intellect of the character in the monotone voice, which does create some humorous bits whenever she talks. That being said, while I like Moretz as Wednesday, her character’s journey goes back to the criticism of this sequel; finding her narrative arc to be a bit bland and conventional within her family’s plight. Again, the scenario has been done before and just comes across as tiresome. Thus, Wednesday, just comes across as derivate and formulaic, despite Moretz giving what she can for her character respectfully.
The same can be partly said about the other main members of the Addams Family in this sequel, with the characters of Gomez and Morticia being more sidelined in the feature than in the previous one, despite their importance as the patriarch and matriarch of the Addams family. Of course, actor Oscar Isaac (Dune and Ex Machina) and actress Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road and Snow White and the Huntsman) are best voice talents in their respective characters and are certainly dead on with their persona of Gomez and Morticia Addams. That being said, their characters are, more or less, pushed aside and feel a bit more half-baked, which is disappointing because I thought that the first Addams Family movie did a great job in introducing an incorporating both Gomez and Morticia into the movie (i.e., Gomez with Pugsley’s ceremony and Morticia’s dealing with Wednesday’s discovery of the human world). In The Addams Family 2, however, their characters are underutilized. Of course, they are present in the movie, but not as well-rounded as they could’ve been, which is disheartening to say the least. Even worse is the character of Pugsley in The Addams Family 2, who is reduced to more of physical gag character in the sequel than anything else. He has a sight character arc of him trying to find love, but, much like the film itself, comes off as half-baked. Interestingly, the character of Pugsley is the only replaced voice actor of the returning cast, with actor Finn Wolfhard, who played the character in the 2019 film, not returning to the sequel and being replaced by actor Javon Walton (Euphoria and Utopia). I think that Walton was okay in providing the voice of Pugsley, but I think that Wolfhard did a better job. Still, for what its worth, Walton was fine. Interestingly, the character of Uncle Fester, who is once again voiced by comedian actor Nick Kroll (The League and Sing!) gets a much more large supporting role in The Addams Family 2. Of course, I love Kroll’s voice and persona of Fester, which is something that I welcome in the movie, but the character seems a bit unnecessary throughout the movie and is only there for the big finale part, which (as mentioned above) feels a bit superfluous.
Other minor players such as and Conrad Vernon as the Addams’s Frankenstein-like Butler Lurch and actress Bette Milder (Hocus Pocus and The First Wives Club) as Grandma Addams, and rapper artist Snoop Dog as Cousin It round out the rest of the family members of the Addams Family. Like before, these respective characters have limited screen time in the movie, but the acting talents behind are solid, nonetheless. As a sidenote, even though a large portion don’t like it, I do find it amusing that Snoop Dog does the voice for it…. love the goofy sounding gibberish in the movie.
Of the newcomers, who are mostly the bad guy antagonist characters of the movie, I would say that actor Bill Hader (Inside Out and Saturday Night Live) does a fairly decent job in the role of Cyrus Strange, a brilliant scientist who has a keen eye on Wednesday Addams. Hader is certainly know stranger of doing voiceover work for animated projects (both on the big and small screen) and it shows that in The Addams Family 2; feeling comfortable in playing the villain of the narrative. That being said, while Hader’s Cyrus Strange is fine (in voicing the character), the character itself is quite generic and vanilla. Heck, his villainy only really comes to light towards the final stretch of the movie’s story, which is a bit awkward and clunky in my opinion. Thus, the character is rather weak and doesn’t really amount to much. Besides him, the only other “new” character in the movie is found within Mr. Mustela, Cyrus Strange lawyer / lackey, who is voiced by actor Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride and Toy Story). Like Hader, Shawn is quite familiar for doing voiceover for animated endeavors and certainly does fit “right at home” in the film as a minor supporting character. Heck, I think he should’ve been the movie’s villain voice than Hader.
The Addams family hit the road on a cross-country road trip, preparing for family bond moments, yet Wednesday draws an interesting conclusion on her parental linage in the movie The Addams Family 2. Directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tierman’s latest film takes what was established in the 2019 cartoon feature and expands upon it; delivering a new adventure for the Addams to explore within their goofy ghastly antics of strange and bizarre and finding more about themselves along the way. While the movie is slightly amusing, the animation has improved, and the voice talents involved are still great, the film itself feels disjointed and wonky from the word “go”, especially with its aimless direction, generic road trip premise, hit or miss humor, lackluster story, and some flat characters. Personally, I was disappointed with this movie. Yes, it knew that it wasn’t going something as great Disney and Pixar endeavor, but I was expecting something….. a bit more. Well, a lot more as this sequel is literally several steps backwards in this potential animated franchise. It just didn’t feel like an Addams Family movie….and that’s disappointing part to me. Thus, my recommendation for this movie is a “skip it” as even fans of the first film might be turned away of how this movie pans out. Kids might like this film, but there are far better endeavors out there for them to be distracted with. While the movie ending leaves the door for another sequel, I have suspicious feeling that a third Addams Family movie may not be in the cards. Frankly, I would love to see one, but it would have a more engaging and creative story at work. In the end, The Addams Family 2 is a sequel endeavor that doesn’t work quite as well as intended; loosing its focus in its narrative, macabre hijinks, and the amusing reasons from this “creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky” family.
2.3 Out of 5 (Skip It)
Released On: October 1st, 2021
Reviewed On: November 3rd, 2021
The Addams Family 2 is 93 minutes long and is rated PG for macabre and rude humor, violence, and language