With Halloween around the corner, this animated, sinister sequel with its snap-happy theme song has timing in its favor.
In the ‘origin’ prologue, Gomez (voiced by Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (voiced by Charlize Therson) Addams are being married. Part of the ceremony involves putting a lime in a coconut and drinking it, like the 1971 Harry Nilsson song, as they vow to make each other unhappy for the rest of their lives.
After infuriated, torch-carrying townspeople chase them off with pitchforks, the newlyweds disappear into the night. In their getaway, their car strikes strait-jacketed Lurch (voiced by Conrad Vernon), who ostensibly escaped from an abandoned mental hospital, where they decide to homestead.
It’s a cobweb-covered, gothic mansion in suburban New Jersey, where “Nobody in their right mind would be caught dead in.”
Thirteen years later, Gomez and Morticia have settled into family life with two children: homicidal teenage Wednesday (voiced by Chloe Grace Moretz) and her pyromaniac younger brother, Pugsley (voiced by Finn Wolfhard).
As the time approaches for Pugsley’s coming-of-age, mastery- of -swordplay ritual – ‘sabre mazurka’ – the Addams’ relatives assemble witness the bar-mitzvah-like celebration, including outspoken Grandma (voiced by Bette Midler), Uncle Fester (voiced by Nick Kroll) and Cousin It (voiced by Snoop Dogg).
Their presence poses problems for the “Design Intervention” town-planner of nearby Assimilation, Margaux Needler (Allison Janney), who is chagrined that her landscape assemblage of identical, cookie-cutter houses is dominated by these bizarre neighbors.
Further subversive complications arise as Wednesday befriends Margaux’s rebellious daughter Parker (Elsie Fisher) in junior high school.
Blandly written by Matt Lieberman & Pamela Pettler and formulaically directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon (“Sausage Party”), it’s aimed at 8-12 year-olds.
FYI: the first Charles Addams cartoons depicting this macabre, modern Goth family appeared in The New Yorker magazine in the 1930s, followed by six TV series, three films and a Broadway musical.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Addams Family” is a family-friendly, yet frighteningly forgettable 4. Trick or treat? It depends on your age and tolerance for trite.