The weird and wonderful Addams Family, Gomez (Oscar Isaac), Morticia (Charlize Theron), Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz), Pugsley (Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton) and their chrome domed Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll), are just like any other family. Sure, they live in a house of horrors and are “mysterious and spooky and all together ooky,” but underneath it all, they are a regular, loving family.
The latest instalment in their lengthy documentation of family life, the animated “The Addams Family 2,” now playing in theatres and premium VOD, sees Gomez and Morticia, like so many parents, concerned that their kids are growing up too fast.
The action begins at Wednesday’s high school science fair. When she only earns a participation award for her project—transferring octopus intelligence into her Uncle Fester—she becomes more withdrawn than usual. To bring the family back together, Gomez and Morticia plan a family road trip to—where else?—Death Valley.
Along the way complications arise, including Cyrus Strange (Wallace Shawn, son of editor William Shawn who ran the Addams Family cartoons for decades in the pages of the New Yorker), an evil scientist who convinces Wednesday she is not really part of the Addams Family.
“The Addams Family 2” has top flight voice work from Isaac, Theron and especially Moretz, who nails the detached but spirited tone of her death-obsessed character. Her empowerment—”I’m not a freak,” she says, “I’m a force of nature.”—will also likely strike a chord with anyone who has felt like an outsider.
What the film doesn’t nail, however, is that Addams Family X-factor, the sense of gleeful dread. This is mainstream family animation, padded with songs and dance numbers, that smooths out the offbeat, macabre heart and soul of the source material. It’s goofy, not ooky, with none of the eccentric charm of the 1960s TV show.
Directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon bring a light touch to the story, where none was needed.