The Addams Family 2 review – not ooky, nor kooky, just the smell of a rotting franchise

In 2019, the hopelessly uncreepy animation The Addams Family made it look as if film-makers Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon had dug up the bluish mottled corpse of Charles Addams’s creation, attempted CPR and passed it off as a reboot. Now, here’s film No 2; and after a couple years there’s an unmistakably rotten smell wafting up from the franchise. As charmless as its predecessor, The Addams Family 2 is without an iota of ooky, nor any shred of kooky. Really, it’s just kind of ghastly – and not in the intended way.

Inexplicably, most of the talented voice cast return for more punishment. Oscar Isaac is paterfamilias Gomez, with Charlize Theron playing wife Morticia (though without the deliciousness Angelica Houston brought to the 90s live action movies). Actually, the best voice work here is done by Chloë Grace Moretz as the couple’s deadpan offspring Wednesday who, her parents discover, may have been switched at birth. That would explain why she sounds so alienated from the rest of the clan. The likely candidate for her biological father is black-turtleneck-wearing science entrepreneur Cyrus Strange (Bill Hader), who has been sniffing around. To escape his attentions, Gomez takes the family on a road trip across America.

There are a handful of decent one-liners as they take in the sights. “It’s a great wonder of the world and it kills the most tourists,” Fester says gleefully at Niagara Falls. It’s a badge of honour for the film-makers that the animation remains faithful to the visual style of Addams’s original cartoons, but it feels as if zero effort has been put into thinking about the ingredients of family-friendly spookiness. Instead of having dark-side charm, this is in eyeball-achingly bright and manic kids-movie mode. Even the jokes sneaked in for adults – such as a homage to Carrie when Wednesday is accidentally entered into a child beauty pageant – feel done to death. The obvious scheduling slot would have been Halloween, but you can see why they wouldn’t dare. Your little devils deserve better.

The Addams Family 2 is in cinemas from 8 October.

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