There’s a scene in “The Addams Family 2” that perfectly encapsulates my experience watching it. It’s where young Wednesday Addams and her monstrous butler, Lurch, find themselves being accosted by a scary-looking biker at a road bar. Wednesday tells Lurch to “show them what you can do with your cold, dead hands.” Lurch, of course, begins to play Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” on the piano. The biker, arms still crossed and mouth still grimacing, slowly begins to tap his foot to the music. That was basically how I was while watching the movie: not laughing and generally unenthusiastic, but often tapping my metaphorical foot along to the movie’s beat anyway.
Picking up where the 2019 reboot left off, “The Addams Family 2” sees the spooky and kooky family take to an RV as Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) decide to leave their mansion and take a family road trip across the country. They’re pursued by Mr. Mustela (Wallace Shawn), an old lawyer who is trying to get a DNA sample from Wednesday Addams (Chloë Grace Moretz). He believes she was switched as a baby, meaning she might not be a true Addams by blood. Meanwhile, the mysterious scientist, Cyrus Strange (Bill Hader), wants Wednesday to work for him and does everything he can to persuade her.
“The Addams Family 2” is very clearly a kids movie rather than a family movie. From the humor to the story progression, the film’s intended audience is obviously extremely juvenile. This limits its appeal. It takes away from the more classic “Disney” style of entertainment which is meant for people of all ages. At the same time, the movie is chock-full of pop culture references.The Addams Family are no strangers to mixing with pop culture, from the 90’s “Addams Family (Whoomp)” with Tag Team to the modern Progressive commercials. However, it is unusual for these to play such a big role in the movie itself. Not all of these jokes are bad (Gomez saying he likes Billie Eilish except for the fact that she is “a bit too sunny” was a highlight), but they come a little too often. The references and childish humor combine to make “The Addams Family 2” feel more similar to other modern kids movies, diluting the family’s distinct personality.
The other thing that brings the movie down is its unfocused story structure. The story has a hard time figuring out what exactly it wants its focus to be. Sometimes it seems like a movie about the Addams family taking a roadtrip across the country in a loose, episodic structure, but by the end, it turns far more character focused and tries to hit some big emotional moments. Not to mention there’s an evil scientist who is making human-animal hybrids that fight Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) who is turned into a giant octopus in the finale. Maybe this could have come together and worked, but with only 97 minutes of runtime, it struggles to balance the different parts of its
With all of that being said, it’s hard to completely resist this movie for one big reason: The Addams Family themselves are so charming and lovely that it is just fun to watch them on screen. The Addams family have had remarkable staying power in pop culture, with a 60’s TV show, 70’s cartoon, 90’s live-action films and now with multiple modern animated features. I learned the quadratic formula in math class by singing it to the tune of their iconic theme song and I knew the music having never seen any Addams Family work before. The family is undeniable. There is something about the Addams’ that make them always appealing. That being said, even though “The Addams Family 2” has jokes that don’t land and a very messy structure, it’s ultimately still charming.
As mentioned in the beginning, when Lurch plays and sings, the bikers lose their composure and get up and dance. As a viewer, I never got to the point where I got up and danced to the beat of the movie. However, The Addams family themselves are a catchy enough melody that this film is still an enjoyable experience.
“The Addams Family 2” is now playing in theaters.
By Ben Lindner