#Halloween animated movie review: The Addams Family 2

(courtesy IMP Awards)

If you have ever, EVER, felt like a weirdo, an outsider, the strange one, the outlier or the very square peg in a mainstream round hole, then the Addams Family has likely always felt like your freaky home away from home.

It makes sense – here are a group who love and unquestionably support each other, no matter how utterly odd they may appear to outsiders because they know the value and worth of the people and strange creatures in their family and they have no reason to do anything other than accept and support it.

What isn’t intoxicatingly attractive to someone living out on the much-scorned fringes of acceptability?

This queer reviewer has always felt a deep and abiding affinity with The New Yorker-birthed creations of Charles Addams, but in The Addams Family 2, the animated follow-up to The Addams Family (2019), brilliant prodigy Wednesday Addams (Chloë Grace Moretz) is very much feeling on the outer to the point where she doesn’t feel she belongs with her creepy and kooky bunch, after all.

Exasperated with her parents, Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron), whom she spurns at every opportunity and eager to take every opportunity to make younger brother Pugsley’s (Javon Walton) life hell – you’d think a member of the Addams Family would love that but it appears not – even going so far as to fashion a voodoo doll that sees Pugsley being catapulted over Niagara Falls without a barrel.

What, on earth, you might ask, is the Addams Family doing so much far from home, and at a horrifically normal tourist trap stop of all places?

Well, so estranged has Wednesday made herself from her family, even using Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) as a science experiment to prove you can breed unlikable qualities out of people by giving them animal DNA – she uses her pet octopus Socrates’s DNA which has a strange and highly funny effect on Fester which becomes a running gag throughout the film – that Gomez feels the only option is to take the family on a road trip.

Not just any road trip mind you – it wouldn’t be an Addams Family road trip if it was, would it?

Travelling in their gloriously steampunk gothic winnebago, which has all the discomforts of home, with even space for a lion, Gomez’s spinning knife board and visiting family such as Cousin Itt (Snoopy Dogg) and which recalls the travel mode the family adopted in their 1973 Hanna-Barbera series, it’s hoped that this three-week trip, stopping off in Salem, the Alamo and a few other ghoulish points of interest, will bring everyone bang into each other’s weirdly spindly arms again.

Wednesday, of course, is aghast at the idea, only slightly less so than she is with the idea of Gomez showing any kind of physical affection, but having no choice jumps on board, with faithful Lurch (Conrad Vernon) also along for the ride, hoping she can just get through it all.

What turns out to be an ordinary family trip away – let’s face it, that’s a highly relative term where the Addams Family is concerned – becomes considerably more complicated when the family is pursued by a strange man in a yellow suit, Mr. Mustela (Wallace Shawn in happily full-on The Princess Bride form), the lawyer for scientific genius and very rich guy, Cyrus Strange (Bill Hader) who is convinced Wednesday is his actual daughter.

Gomez and Morticia naturally reject the idea out of hand but when she overhears her parents discussing while they walk their lion in the woods, as all families do, she becomes intrigued with the idea that she may both have an explanation for her points of perceived difference from her family, and an out from their suffocating embrace.

With Fester grappling with his body, and mind, doing some very strange octopussy things indeed, and Wednesday convinced she’s not an Addams at all, The Addams Family 2 is a lighthearted but emotionally meaningful romp through themes of identity, family and not feeling like you fit in anywhere.

While the film, like its many TV and movie predecessors, doesn’t on one hand take itself too seriously, it also continues the themes of acceptance and belonging that have given some richly thoughtful meaning to the franchise since its inception.

Half the fun if you’re an Addams Family fan if feeling you’re back on that early-1970s road trip with them where they regularly made the small-minded freak out and the more openhearted, and minded, feel like they’d finally met their people.

Hitting places like Niagara Falls, San Antonio and Sausalito, where things get hilariously and monstrously animalistic (all driven to by Thing who finds coffee the perfect energising driving companion), The Addams Family 2 is above all, a whole lot of fun.

It gives us a slew of visual touchstones including a house that seems alive, and a Grandmama, voiced by Bette Midler who has a fondness for big wild parties when no one is around, but more importantly in amongst all the visual and verbal hilarity, a reminder of why we love this family so much.

They are all the freaks and weirdos and strangers many of us have always felt we were, and are, and in a film dedicated to exploring identity and owning who you are, their message of unconditional belonging, love and acceptance is exactly what we need in a world that still seems obsessed with persecuting the different.

Yes, the bring their own personal thunderstorms to sunny Miami Beach and they delight in the idea of destruction and mayhem, but they are the perfect antidote to the idea that we have to fit in with prevailing orthodoxy.

We don’t in fact, and while Wednesday might spend much of The Addams Family 2 fighting the idea that she’s part of this welcome bunch of misfits and oddballs, the film brings us back again and again to the reassuring notion that being different, and belonging to a family of very different people, isn’t a strange thing at all.

In fact, as Wednesday discovers anew, being a part of the Addams Family, even if they drive you mad at times – welcome to all the good families on the planet, young lady, which make us feel happy and maddened all at once, but mostly happy – is a rich and wonderful thing and as The Addams Family 2 wends its weird and windy course across America and our hearts, we’re reminded of how good it is to not fit in and be a part of like-minded people who think that’s the best possible world in which to live.

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