[Screen It]


(2021) (voices of ChloŽ Grace Moretz, Oscar Isaac) (PG)

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Computer-Animated Comedy: A creepy and kooky family goes on a road trip across America in hopes of keeping their dour daughter from growing further apart from them.

Wednesday Addams (voice of CHLOň GRACE MORETZ) is a dour girl who lives with her creepy and kooky family -- parents Gomez (voice of OSCAR ISAAC) and Morticia (voice of CHARLIZE THERON), brother Pugsley (voice of JAVON 'WANNA' WALTON), Uncle Fester (voice of NICK KROLL), and Grandma Addams (voice of BETTE MIDLER). Only friendly with their butler, Lurch (voice of CONRAD VERNON), Wednesday wants nothing to do with the rest of her family, which doesn't sit well with Gomez who wants to make things right.

Accordingly, and after she unhappily co-wins a science project competition by injecting her pet octopus' personality into Uncle Fester -- which draws the attention of scientist Cyrus Strange (voice of BILL HADER) -- Gomez decides to take the family on a road trip across America for some family bonding.

During that, they're briefly joined by rich Cousin Itt (voice of SNOOP DOGG), but Gomez and Morticia don't appreciate it when lawyer Rupert Strange (voice of WALLACE SHAWN) shows up and informs them he has a client who claims Wednesday was switched at birth and is actually his daughter. As they make their way across the country, Gomez tries to make Wednesday happy, all while contending with developments that strain and threaten her relationship with the rest of the family.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10

If there's one thing the pandemic changed in terms of being a movie reviewer, it's that studios had to admit they had the ability to show their films to critics in their homes -- via screening links -- rather than at the theater. The old arguments were always that they couldn't do it from a technology standpoint or that movies were meant to be seen on the big screen (despite most of the lifetime viewing of them occurring on TV sets).

The one thing that was never mentioned was that if the offering was truly bad, reviewers might be tempted to check email or their social media accounts while "watching" the screener, or simply turn it off, both of which would be awkward if not downright rude to do at an in-person theatrical screening.

All of that came to mind while watching "The Addams Family 2," the -- natch -- sequel to the 2019 film that turned the old live action material (both in TV and then later movie form) into computer-animated fodder for mostly the kiddos. We were informed that unlike other offerings, there'd be no screening links available and thus we'd have to see it in the theater with other critics.

And upon walking out as the end credits played for the 90-some minute film, I told a colleague that I knew why that decision was made (and that the review embargo was this morning at 9 am). And it's because it's so bad that had I seen it at home, I likely would have been tempted by phone distractions or the off button on my projector.

I never saw the 2019 offering (one of our other reviewers covered it and gave it a slightly negative review), so I can't make comparisons. But I can compare it to the old TV from my youth and this folks, well, it isn't the Addams Family I grew up with.

Sure, the main characters are the same -- parents Gomez (voiced by Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron), kids Wednesday (ChloŽ Grace Moretz) and Pugsley (Javon Walton), Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll), and ancillary characters Lurch (Conrad Vernon), cousin Itt (Snoop Dogg) and the disembodied hand known as Thing -- but that's where the similarities mostly end.

Rather than the witty dark humor of the original show, we have endless bathroom jokes (I lost count after a while), a family road trip plot -- courtesy of scribes Dan Hernandez & Benji Samit and Ben Queen and Susanna Fogel -- that gives the film an episodic feel thanks to no real connective tissue, a conclusion featuring a battle royale between two gargantuan human-animal hybrid beings, and yes, even an old man, droopy testicles joke (with Fester's octopus tentacle standing in for that male body part).

The basic story revolves around the dour Wednesday who wants nothing to do with her family -- and having suffered through the movie I can understand why -- and thus Gomez proposes the cross-country tour for some family bonding. That's interrupted when a lawyer (Wallace Shawn) informs him and Morticia that his client, Cyrus Strange (Bill Hader), believes their daughter is actually his, what with having been swapped at birth. Of course, there's an ulterior motive to his claims and that's eventually revealed in the third act.

By then, I wasn't even remotely interested, what with all the potty jokes and co-directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon using a fractured and frenetic pace -- where some non-sequitur scenes come and go in what seems like the near blink of an eye -- to the point that I felt like I was watching some sort of ADHD cinematic experiment.

The family I grew up with - at least on TV -- was indeed creepy and kooky. The one here is nothing more than a reason to check email and social media or simply turn the travesty off. "The Addams Family 2" rates as a 3 out of 10.

Reviewed September 27, 2021 / Posted October 1, 2021

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