In a world of bland conformity, the creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky characters from Charles Addams’ newspaper cartoon strips proudly stand out from the crowd with their lip-smackingly macabre predilections.
“Being different is the most Addamsy thing,” observes morose teenager Wednesday Addams (voiced by Chloe Grace Moretz) in Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon’s computer-animated sequel.
Ironically, The Addams Family 2 is more conventional than its lacklustre predecessor, recycling plot elements from the second and third chapters of the Hotel Transylvania franchise to cram the titular clan into a camper van (driven by Thing) for a ramshackle excursion designed to strengthen family unity.
“This trip will bring the Addams family closer than ever before!” gushes patriarch Gomez (Oscar Isaac).
“Or there will be no survivors,” deadpans daughter Wednesday.
The quality of the animation has improved from two years ago – water effects during a pivotal sequence at Niagara Falls cause a splash in the best possible sense – and there are a couple of pleasing visual gags, including a wooden road sign with multiple arms pointing to Amityville, Crystal Lake, Elm Street, Haddonfield and the Overlook Hotel.
A script credited to four writers incorporates a couple of references to the turmoil of the past 20 months.
Thing slathers digits with hand sanitiser and Wednesday drolly justifies her aversion to hugs by quipping, “I’ve been social distancing since birth.”
The Addams Family 2 dilutes the deliciously disturbing tone of the cartoon strips and Barry Sonnenfeld’s glorious 1991 live action film while there are still few signs of life in the vocal performances of Isaac and Charlize Theron as marvellously morbid sweethearts Gomez and Morticia.
Wednesday (Moretz) enters a national science fair with her homemade serum, which transplants personality traits between species.
The morose teenager injects Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) with a cocktail derived from her highly intelligent pet octopus Socrates to demonstrate the effectiveness of her invention.
A scientist, who sponsors the fair, fixates on Wednesday’s chemical formula.
“Alas I can’t share it,” she replies coldly. “It’s a family secret.”
Soon after, a lawyer approaches Gomez (Isaac) and Morticia (Theron) for a sample of Wednesday’s DNA.
The advocate claims the enfant terrible was switched in the maternity ward with another child.
Gomez is devastated at the prospect of losing his little girl and hurriedly organises a three-week family holiday from Salem, site of the 17th-century witch trials, to Death Valley via Sleepy Hollow.
En route, Wednesday repeatedly shuns her father’s affection (“It’s torture, and not the fun kind like putting leeches in Pugsley’s briefs!”) and Cousin It (Snoop Dogg) shares cryptic parenting advice (“Children are like socks in the laundry. They need to be lost before they can be found”).
The Addams Family 2 is a marginal improvement on the original but the bar was set low enough to trouble the most flexible limbo dancer.
Plot machinations involving Wednesday’s bloodline are contrived and there’s no palpable emotional pay-off to the on-screen angst.
A bizarre musical interlude involving Lurch belting out Gloria Gaynor’s disco anthem I Will Survive while playing piano in a biker bar is the closest thing the sequel comes to genuine craziness.
We are neither afraid nor petrified.
JOHN AND THE HOLE (15, 103 mins)
Argentine screenwriter Nicolas Giacobone, who shared the Oscar for best original screenplay for Birdman, expands his short story El Pozo into the script of this feature-length drama directed by Pascual Sisto about a disturbed boy, who traps his family underground.
Thirteen-year-old John (Charlie Shotwell) is emotionally distant from his parents Brad (Michael C Hall) and Anna (Jennifer Ehle) and sister Laurie (Taissa Farmiga).
Using an expensive drone, gifted to him, the disaffected teenager stumbles upon a large hole in the woods that surround the family’s impressive New England home.
This discovery sows the seeds of a diabolical plan.
He drugs his family and drags Brad, Anna and Laurie into the bunker, where they become his prize specimens, entirely at his mercy.
While the rest of the clan fights for survival, John savours his newfound freedom and takes charge of his twisted destiny.
DEADLY CUTS (15, 90 mins)
Stylists from a working-class Dublin hair salon take on the criminal fraternity with scissors and sass in writer-director Rachel Carey’s comedy.
Michelle (Angeline Ball) is the owner of Deadly Cuts, situated in an area of Dublin where local thug Deano (Ian Lloyd Anderson) and his gang extort money from businesses through intimidation and violence.
Unfortunately, Michelle refuses to be bullied so Deano damages the shop and a villainous politician swiftly files a compulsory purchase order.
Michelle and lead stylist Stacey plan their retaliation during preparations for a national hairdressing competition run by the effusive D’Logan Doyle.
THE METROPOLITAN OPERA LIVE: BORIS GODUNOV (Certificate TBC, 140 mins)
Sebastian Weigle conducts Mussorgsky’s towering opera in its original 1869 version, broadcast live from the stage of the Lincoln Centre For The Performing Arts in New York with German bass Rene Pape in the demanding title role.
Boris Godunov seizes the throne by murdering nine-year-old heir Dmitry. His land is blighted with famines, which are thought by some to be divine retribution.
Ambitious young monk Grigory Otrepiev (David Butt Philip) shares the same date of birth as Dmitry and poses as the murdered Tsarevich to oust Godunov.
Directed by Stephen Wadsworth.