I was always more of a Munsters kid than an Addams Family kid, but Charles Addams’ creepy 1938 comic creation is the frightful favorite these days (snap, snap): four TV series, a stage musical, a DTV movie, Barry Levinson’s “The Addams Family” (1991) and “Addams Family Values” (1993) — the rare sequel that’s better than its predecessor — and now “The Addams Family 2,” the sequel to the 2019 animated reboot. I missed it back in 2019, but I’m all caught up now.
The 2019 reboot is straight from the Tim Burton playbook, with the Addams clan living on the outskirts of a pastel-hued town full of “normal” people that are heavily into conformity. It’s a few notches above Adam Sandler’s lazy “Hotel Transylvania” franchise, worth seeing just to hear Lurch’s version of REM’s “Everybody Hurts.” In another inspired sequence, Wednesday Addams (Chloë Grace Moretz) turns a biology class frog dissection into a hilarious homage to the Universal Frankenstein movies.
Wednesday’s arch, alien personality is the centerpiece for “The Addams Family 2” (MGM-Bron, 2021, 93 min.). Talk about conformity: she takes it hard when everyone wins first prize in the school science fair, and a strange man and a hulking henchman snoop around, suggesting that Wednesday was switched at birth, and therefore not really an Addams. So the family decides to take a road trip as a distraction, and we get “The Addams Family Visits…” vignettes scattered all across the country: Niagara Falls, Sleepy Hollow, Miami, San Antonio. Meanwhile, thanks to Wednesday’s science project, Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) is gradually transforming into an octopus, and the question of her lineage forms the chase element of the film.
There’s a funny running gag reminiscent of “Time Bandits” (1982), where a man trying to propose to his girlfriend at various famous American landmarks is repeatedly foiled by Addams insanity. And wouldn’t you know, Lurch (Conrad Vernon) gets another musical number in a scene set in a biker bar, perhaps a nod to the “Tequila” scene in “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” (1985).
In the comic book genre, the “Venom” movies are in the Jekyll and Hyde subgenre, or if you prefer, “The Odd Couple.” In any other movie, Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock would be the Oscar, but now that he’s absorbed an Id monster like the alien symbiote Venom, Brock is clearly the Felix in this bonkers, adrenalized series. (Hardy also voices Venom, who sounds like a psychotic Cookie Monster.) Venom just wants to devour the world, and Brock just wants peace and quiet.
In “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” (Sony-Columbia, 2021, 87 min.), Brock tries to re-start his journalism career by interviewing the demented serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson, picking up where “Natural Born Killers” left off). When the two men scuffle, Venom appears and wounds Kasady, leaving a splash of blood on Kasady’s face. He slurps it up, and transforms into Carnage.
Andy Serkis, Gollum himself, directs this crazed pulp with his pedal to the metal, cramming a lot of backstory into its 97 minutes, including parallel love stories: Brock (and Venom) are still in love with his ex-fiancée Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), who has a new man in her life, and Kasady has his own starcrossed romance with Naomi Harris, playing the mutant Shriek, AKA Frances Barrison. There’s a lot of comedy here, but Serkis is in such a rush that he sometimes undercuts any comedic timing by speeding to the next scene or shot.
Still, I prefer this version of Brock and Venom to the one put forth in Sam Raimi’s overstuffed
“Spider-Man 3” (2007), and for the first time in the “Venom” series, we get a Spidey credit cookie. If Tom Holland shows up for part three, I’m there.
Recommended: Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” 10/7/21 @ 7:30pm @ Regal Cinemas
“Attack of the Hollywood Cliches” on Netflix
RIP Tommy Kirk (“Old Yeller,” “The Shaggy Dog,” “The Absent-Minded Professor,” “Son of Flubber,” “Swiss Family Robinson,” “The Misadventures of Merlin Jones”)
“The Addams Family 2” and “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” are playing at the Regal Cinemas at the Shops at Ithaca Mall.