Two years after the Addams returned to theaters, America’s creepiest family takes a trip in The Addams Family 2: A Spree from Hell, and we’d really rather not be a part of the journey. Warning: a bit of a spoiler!
Failing to come close to the cult status of the ’60s series or two films directed by Barry Sonnenfeld in the ’90s, The Addams Family is a somewhat sympathetic and unexpected young replay of the franchise. Despite its vicious history of faithfully drawing on the themes of Charles Addams’ work – the falsehood of appearance and ugliness that lurks in each – this first animated feature film unfortunately suffered from overly rigid, stripped-down animation and artistic direction that limited its ambitions.
These thorns on the side, however, didn’t prevent the film from creating a shock at the global box office with over 203 million dollars for a budget of just 23 million, allowing its sequel to inflate the bill and benefit from tidier plastic. . We’re not going to push comparisons with Disney or Pixar productions, but this second part has definitely raised the bar, offering smoother animations, more functional textures, and less empty sets.
Scenes based on disproportionate action and fast, voluminous movement thus acquire vigor, without gaining any comic tempo. Despite the vibrant colors that contrast effectively with Addams’ Gothic aesthetic, the offset play and culture shock formula is getting tired of getting tired.
The screenplay questions what makes Addams’ identity and uniqueness, but it plays a mad geneticist with job DNA. While the character designs are still modeled after their creators’ designs, the film has made a vampireization of the original material and swapped the cynicism and acidity of its social commentary for a steady stream of antics and other unnecessarily loud antics. All sprinkled with some observations or ridicule that are less relevant to American society (selfies, crime of the century).
Worst blasphemy may be, the murky and subversive family therefore becomes consensual, and dumber than evil, swallowed up by the mandatory classification of film for all audiences. The franchise’s dark and gruesome humor thus rests on the weak shoulders of Mercredi, whose sharp lines and expressiveness are all that’s left of the Addamsian spirit of the license.
More than just breathless humor with common jokes and low foreheads, the film – which is also written by four screenwriters – enjoys its laziness (final proof: they pay attention to The Thing). Hence, this unavoidably opportunistic sequel re-starts the previously created family vacation scenario, to deliver the standard message of family bonding and self-acceptance.
A disjointed plot follows that connects the sketches until the finale is agreed upon, and plays ping-pong with its subplots: lawyers chasing family, Mercredi’s existential crisis, Pugsley’s seduction trial, Fetid’s mutation into a cephalopod or Grandma Addams’ giant party. And all of this is punctuated by (too) many covers or pop and hip-hop songs to try (in vain) to energize the whole and distract from the messy story.
Another pitfall, The Addams Family 2 does what many children’s animation productions do to keep adults’ attention: making random references to popular culture. Unfortunately, not with Shrek’s more cinephile approach, where tribute spikes and other winks are an integral part of the universe and even become a game between the film and its seasoned viewers. Here, the most obvious is probably Carrie in the devil ball with her smudged beauty pageant, which is also a chance to change the character’s intrinsic look and play a little more awkwardly with Addams’ identity.
After the first film that wanted to tell something and show its love for the original material, the second part frantically shook the corpses of the characters to try, desperately, to make us smile. Granted, this is a film for children, but that is no reason to serve them soullessly, without feelings, and without envy. It’s still hoped that The Addams Family 3 never sees the light of day and that the Netflix series Wednesday produced by Tim Burton doesn’t plant the final nail in the franchise’s coffin.