BAXTER — "They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky. They're altogether ooky, The Addams Family."
The lyrics to that unmistakable, unforgettable theme song that’s so easy to snap fingers and sing along to sums up the oddball appeal of a monstrous family that was the basis of a 1964 television series starring John Astin and several live-action feature films in the 1990s.
The ghoulish family returns to the big screen in the new release “The Addams Family 2,” an animated motion picture playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter and the Sunset Cinema in Jenkins.
The Addams family sets off from home on a road trip across the United States — the Midwest was left out as a tourist destination — with some hijinks and inevitable family bonding along the way.
The cast features some big names such as Oscar-winner Charlize Theron as Morticia Addams, Golden Globe-winner Oscar Isaac as her husband Gomez, Chloë Grace Moretz as daughter Wednesday, Bette Midler as Grandmamma and rapper Snoop Dogg as the hirsute Cousin Itt.
As probably any adolescent would say, going on a cross-country trip with their decidedly unhip and lame parents in a camper would be the stuff of most teens’ nightmares (and some adults).
The unimaginable but very real horror for youngsters chafing to grow up, discover and do things on their own, establish their own identity separate from their last names is the hook of the plot.
"They're both growing up so fast. They wouldn't be caught dead with their parents," Morticia tells Gomez when Wednesday skips another family dinner to the consternation of her father.
Meanwhile, son Pugsley discovers girls but frets about talking to them or tries miserably to get the selfie-taking narcissists to notice him, so he turns to his uncle Fester for dating advice.
“The Addams Family 2” is an adventure-comedy that in a way supposes what if the Griswold family from 1983’s hit “National Lampoon's Vacation” starring Chevy Chase, in the film directed by Harold Ramis and written by John Hughes, was instead a family of mostly benign monsters.
“They're both growing up so fast. They wouldn't be caught dead with their parents.”
— Morticia Addams
Moviegoers can almost imagine the infectious and catchy 1983 song “Holiday Road” by guitarist-singer Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac fame playing in “The Addams Family 2” just as the famous song became a mainstay in the National Lampoon's Vacation film franchise.
Pit stops along the tortuous journey for Wednesday include the Grand Canyon — which Pugsley decided to make grander with explosives — Sleepy Hollow, New York and Miami.
Much of the humor from the Addams family franchise of comics, television series and films comes from the culture clash between the family and the rest of society, and “The Addams Family 2” does not tinker with that long-standing, fish-out-of-water tradition of comedy.
The PG-rated film runs 90 minutes long with cartoonish violence. Some may find Wednesday’s perpetual and unrelenting attempts to rid herself of her brother Pugsley in murderous ways a tad disturbing but fortunately her sibling usually comes out unscathed.
“The Addams Family 2” was directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, who also directed the R-rated animated film "Sausage Party" that featured the voices of Michael Cera, James Franco, Bill Hader, Salma Hayek, Jonah Hill, Edward Norton, Paul Rudd and Kristen Wiig.
The Addams family was the creation of American artist and cartoonist Charles Addams, whose recurring characters regularly appeared in “The New Yorker.”
“The Addams Family 2” currently holds a 73% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website, but the website’s critics have been less kind.
As with a lot of children’s fare — with the possible exception of Disney powerhouse Pixar and its computer-animated hits that appeal seamlessly to adults and kids — the dark comedy in “The Addams Family 2” can be hit or miss, depending upon the audience and the viewers’ ages.
But the undeniable saving grace of the sequel released from United Artists is its underlying message of love, family, unity and acceptance, albeit with a finger-snapping ghoulish family.