The Wünschmanns are back – and once again the human family is turning into monsters. In the animated film sequel HAPPY FAMILY 2 They want to save other monsters in this form. We’ll reveal in our review whether it’s entertaining.
OT: Monster Family 2 (DE/UK 2021)
In “Happy Family” the Wünschmann family was transformed into monsters, whereupon the quarreling average family finally learned to listen to each other, respect each other more and pull together. However, this lesson didn’t last too long: having become human again, the four Wünschmanns have grown apart again. Son Max, who struggles with self-esteem problems and has recently been experimenting with magic, one day ensures that the family is transformed again. This is just in time, because with their monster skills the Wünschmanns can possibly stop Mila Starr, who is kidnapping monsters on behalf of her parents…
Six years after its publication, David Safier’s children’s book “Happy Family” was released as an animated film in cinemas. Now, four more years later and just in time for the tenth anniversary of the monster story, the Wünschmanns are returning for a sequel. As with the previous film, Safier was responsible for the script, but unlike part one, where he worked with Catharina Junk (“The Peppercorns”) cooperated, this time he teamed up with Abraham Katz (“Red roses”) together. Nothing changes in the director’s chair: The sequel, like its predecessor, comes from Holger Tappe. And this continuity can also be seen in “Happy Family 2” – for better or for worse. Once again, urban environments are a touch too clean, precise, and empty to create the illusion of truly living places. But whenever the Wünschmanns venture into nature, the computer-animated worlds are more than just respectable – especially when you consider that this European animation production only has a fraction of the budget available to Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, and DreamWorks Animation or put illumination into their feature-length films.
The Wünschmanns share their home with cute creatures.
In contrast to the settings, the characters involved are a disappointment in terms of animation technology: regardless of whether they are the Wünschmanns, their friends or their enemies – everyone who appears in “Happy Family 2” has an expressionless, stony expression. Certainly, most of the Wünschmanns have at least one “basic expression”: Dad Frank looks stupid and tired, son Max looks permanently injured and daughter Fay is standing “I am an excited, overstimulated, disappointed teenager” written on the face. But it’s not just that Mama Emma has to put up with completely meaningless facial expressions – all the characters almost always stick to their standard look. They blink, their head moves a little, that’s it, their emotions remain largely frozen. This is even worse with the Starrs than with the Wünschmanns. Whether they’re lying, bragging, panicking, angry or joking, their faces always express the same level of nothingness, which is fatal for this film. Because it is Starr’s daughter Mila, who travels through the world and collects monsters, collides with the Wünschmanns and also awakens feelings of spring in Max, who goes through the biggest character arc here. The Wünschmanns simply go through the lesson from part one that unites them at a rapid pace, while Mila, on paper, goes from a narrow-minded fighter with tunnel vision to a teenager with doubts about her mission and ultimately even goes through a crisis of meaning between her action scenes.
“All of the characters remain in their standard gaze almost entirely. They blink, their head moves a little, that’s it, their emotions remain largely frozen.”
But if Mila always wears the same look, regardless of whether she’s being followed, chasing someone, questioning someone full of grief or being angry… well, then it’s incredibly difficult to root for her, because this animated film didn’t allow for her emotional world animate and thus make it tangible. The character animation is so leaden that even the voice cast can’t fight it – even old dubbing fans like Tobias Meister can’t get the laughs because the script hardly contains any dialogue humor, which depends largely on the vocal performance, but mainly on slapstick and situational comedy. And they just don’t work if the leaden animated characters don’t allow for comedic timing. In terms of content, “Happy Family 2” moves from the already mentioned rapid repetition of its predecessor to Mila Starr’s forced, unconvincing crisis of meaning to half-silent statements about the value of sustainability, the harmfulness of greed and the fact that one should not blindly trust authorities. but they should earn the trust. But it’s not just that all of this is dealt with flatly – it doesn’t come together dramaturgically at all. And in between, the audience favorites from part one joke around, the bats, which look like they come from another, better film in terms of design and their neat animation.
The backgrounds of “Happy Family 2” look mostly passable.
Conclusion: Hands off – this animated sequel is as animating as a lead duck.
“Happy Family 2” can be seen in USA cinemas from November 4th, 2021.