'The Addams Family 2' hits the road to scare up more laughs

After its live-action movies in the 1990s, the Addams Family has found a logical foothold in animation, with “The Addams Family 2” scaring up enough laughs to merit the return, with a mix of low-brow humor for kids and old-time callbacks certain to sail over their heads. Only mildly creepy, it’s just kooky enough to merit an encore, this time via a hybrid theatrical-digital release.

Shrewdly, the focus of this adventure involves Addams daughter Wednesday (voiced again by Chloë Grace Moretz), who is experiencing that coming-of-age phase when she hates her kin, even beyond her customary attempts to murder her brother Pugsley (Javon “Wanna” Walton, replacing Finn Wolfhard, who aged out of the role).
Concerned about Wednesday’s attitude, the ever-cheery Gomez (Oscar Isaac) convinces wife Morticia (Charlize Theron) it’s time for a family road trip, hoping to rekindle their familial bond. As it turns out, it’s also a means of avoiding the unwelcome lawyer (Wallace Shawn) asking questions about whether Wednesday was switched at birth, which might explain her disenchantment with her folk, dryly musing about spending time with them, “It’s torture, and not the fun kind.”
    Again directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, the movie starts slowly, with Wednesday exhibiting her disdain for participation-trophy culture at a science fair, where she draws the attention of the wealthy mogul Cyrus Strange (Bill Hader).
      As the road trip takes off, the movie settles into an episodic groove, making the usual broad references intended to evoke giggles from kids (like finding a litter box for a pet lion) while dropping in some disarming homages, including an unexpected nod to “Carrie.”
        The first “Addams Family” turned into a fairly significant financial success, and it will be interesting to see how the day-date digital release pattern impacts the bottom line.
          For now, though, this animated sequel plucks enough of the right buttons to qualify as a reasonable addition to family movie time — meaning poor Wednesday might need to brace herself for another family excursion in the not-so-distant future.
            “The Addams Family 2” premieres in US theaters and on digital on Oct. 1. It’s rated PG.




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