Two years ago, the first Addams Family animated feature was nothing more than a forgettable kooky-cutter family comedy. The kind that I wouldn’t expect to look forward to a sequel. But the film, which only carried a US$24 million budget, managed to make enough money at the global box office (US$203.7 million, to be exact). Needless to say, a sequel was greenlit and the result, well, not so much.
This time, the sequel — simply titled The Addams Family 2 (how creative) — focuses mainly on Wednesday (voiced by Chloe Grace Moretz), who figured she will emerge as a winner of the National Science Fair for Cyrus Strange Foundation. But as it turns out, everyone who participate ended up as equal winners — a result that doesn’t sit well with Wednesday. Feeling all down and disappointed, she has been skipping family dinners (or more specifically, “evening ritual mastication” after a tree branch crashes through the dining-room window and send her parents, Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) a written note. The same also goes with their son, Pugsley (Javon Walton, replacing Finn Wolfhard from the 2019 film), where Gomez’s brother Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) claimed he’s been busy with a lot of homework.
Worrying about their children’s lack of family bonding, Gomez suggests they should take a cross-country road trip together in their old Addams’ camper. As they are about to hit the road, a lawyer named Mustela (Wallace Shawn) representing his boss from Sausalito shows up and tell Gomez and Morticia about the recent evidence, where then-newborn Wednesday Addams was being accidentally switched with another child one night in the hospital. Mustela demands a DNA sample to prove that Wednesday is not part of the Addams family. But Gomez and Morticia immediately dismissed his so-called evidence as an elaborate joke masterminded by Wednesday so she can excuse herself from joining the road trip.
En route to a three-week road trip, where the Addams family visit several destinations from Niagara Falls to Death Valley, they encounter a few problems along the way including Mustela and his boss’ gigantic bodyguard, Pongo (Ted Evans), who are both tasked to bring Wednesday back to Sausalito at all cost.
Just like the first film, returning director Conrad Vernon along with the franchise newcomers, Laura Brousseau and Kevin Pavlovic rely heavily on individual moments to draw some laughs. Certain scenes like the one where Wednesday uses a voodoo doll to make Pugsley dance unwillingly in front of the public, complete with the 1992 hip-hop classic from House of Pain’s “Jump Around” played in the background, is worth mentioning here.
The film also includes some famous pop-culture references that pay homage to Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (the brief but iconic dolly-zoom scene) and the bucket-of-blood scene (it was a few cans of red paints, anyway because you know, The Addams Family 2 is rated PG) from Brian De Palma’s Carrie. Elsewhere, the film can’t help but rehashes a scene where Addams’ butler, Lurch (Conrad Vernon) singing another popular song and this time, it’s from a late ’70s anthem while playing the piano.
As for the plot, the whole journey of family bonding and whatnots packed with obligatory moral lessons is all familiar stuff. And I was surprised it actually took not one but four screenwriters — credited to Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Ben Queen and Susanna Fogel — to come up with such a formulaic plot straight out from the assembly line of a PG-rated, kid-friendly film. Except for the only time the sequel embraces its eccentric premise can be seen during the final third act involving Wednesday’s biological father.
The Addams Family 2 retains the same CG animation from the first film, even though I’m not sure why the entire visual aesthetics look as if the sequel is made cheaper for the direct-to-streaming market. And while the sequel is available simultaneously in cinemas and for online rental, the latter’s hybrid release plan is included to offer flexibility for audiences, who choose to watch it at the comfort of their own homes in the midst of the current pandemic era.