Movie Review: THE ADDAMS FAMILY (2019)

THE ADDAMS FAMILY is the latest animated film from Sausage Party co-directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon which centers around our favorite spooky family and is based on the ghoulish cartoons of creator Charles Addams. The film stars the voices of Oscar Isaac (Gomez Addams), Charlize Theron (Morticia Addams), Chloë Grace Moretz (Wednesday Addams), Finn Wolfhard (Pugsley Addams), Nick Kroll (Uncle Fester), Snoop Dogg (It), Bette Midler (Grandma), Allison Janney (Margaux Needler), Titus Burgess (Glenn) and Elsie Fisher (Parker). To best describe the plot, I’ll turn to the official synopsis: 

“The Addams are the most eccentric family in the run-down mansion on top of a fog-surrounded hill in New Jersey. Happily ensconced in their Addams way of life for years, Gomez and Morticia prepare for a visit from their extended family for Pugsley’s ‘Sabre Mazurka,’ a rite of passage ceremony to prove he is ready to become an Addams Family man. Little does the family know, their neighbor down the hill – design TV phenom Margaux Needler – is constructing a prefabricated community, replete with technicolor pop and perfectionism. When the fog lifts, Margaux is disconcerted to see The Addams Family mansion – the one thing standing between her dream of selling all the houses in the neighborhood and being adored as a TV personality forever.” 

(L to R) Charlize Theron as the voice of Morticia Addams, Chloë Grace Moretz as the voice of Wednesday Addams, Oscar Isaac as the voice of Gomez Addams, Finn Wolfhard as the voice of Pugsley, and Nick Kroll as the voice of Uncle Fester in THE ADDAMS FAMILY | Credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures
© 2019 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I fully believe growing up in the ’90’s was the best time to be a kid. Not only did we get all the classic horror movies that I now fondly look back on, I also got to experience the feature film adaptation of The Addams Family. I will admit that I have not seen many of the original TV episodes from the ’60’s, but I was definitely obsessed with both film iterations which included The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Value (1993). Though it has been over 20 years since we last saw the Addams Family on the big screen, they have now returned in an animated feature film. When images were first released for THE ADDAMS FAMILY, there was an uproar and backlash over the look of our favorite spooky family, but what most didn’t realize was that these were based on the original drawings of creator Charles Addams. That said, the writers decided if they were going to go back to the original inspiration, they might as well create the Addams’ origin story. Though the film didn’t succeed in hitting all its marks, it was at least a genuine attempt at bring the Addams Family to life for a new generation.

First things first, I, for one, really enjoyed the animation style used and how it was a throwback to Charles Addams. I think that the execution of that particular aspect was one of the strongest parts of the film because the animation ended up feeling familiar, yet unique, and a tad bit unsettling. I also appreciated all the nods to the original TV series and movies, as well as to Charles Addams himself, as it’s a great way to get fans of the original to come back for this new iteration. As far as the origin story is concerned, I think that was a really smart idea. By doing that, it allowed the writers a chance to differentiate themselves from the prior films and make this their own. That said, I would love an even deeper dive into Morticia and Gomez’s life prior to them getting married, specifically in regards to why, exactly, was Morticia living in the sewers – I have questions and I need them answered, thank you very much.

This brings us to our beloved cast of characters. For the most part, everyone did their assigned roles justice. I mean, let’s be honest, casting Oscar Isaac as Gomez was pure perfection and I honestly need a live-action adaptation with him ASAP. However, my favorite characters ended up being Wednesday Addams and the “villain” of the film, Margaux Needle. I don’t know what it is about Wednesday, but the older I get, the more I appreciate her solemn outlook on life. There’s an authenticity to her that not many characters (or real life people) have. Though the character has been made iconic through the performances by Lisa Loring and Christina Ricci, I think it’s safe to say we can add Chloë Grace Moretz interpretation to that list. I say this because we get to see Wednesday beginning to question if being dark and creepy is what she truly wants, something that hasn’t really been explored in the past. As for Margaux Needle, voiced by Allison Janney, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when it was revealed that she was a big star on a DIY Network-inspired series. As someone who has worked on the DIY Network in a past life, the writers couldn’t have come up with a better representation of that type of persona. Having the writers mix the bubbly and colorful personality of Margaux Needle with that of the eccentric and dark Addams was such a perfect pairing and one of the reasons I enjoyed this movie so thoroughly. 

Charlize Theron as the voice of Morticia Addams (left) and Chloë Grace Moretz as the voice of Wednesday Addams (right) in THE ADDAMS FAMILY | Credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures © 2019 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

However, I did feel like the film was lacking in other ways. I know this is aimed primarily for kids, but I felt like the jokes didn’t stick their landing in the way in which they wanted to and this might have been attributed to the fact that some of them felt dated. Also, and I hate to say this, I absolutely could not stand Nick Kroll‘s interpretation of Uncle Fester. Maybe that’s how Uncle Fester is in the original iteration of the comics and/or television series, but each time Uncle Fester came on screen and spoke, it was like nails on a chalkboard. I also had a hard time believing Charlize Theron as Morticia which could be because I couldn’t stop envisioning Anjelica Huston in the role. It’s interesting when you have a film such as THE ADDAMS FAMILY because you don’t want to make it too childish and you don’t want to make it too adult, but I felt because this was an animated version, it leaned way more on the side of childish antics while losing some of the more adult aspects that gave the previous films their edge.

All that said, I think THE ADDAMS FAMILY is a spooky treat for kids who are just beginning to dip their toes into the horror genre. I like that we are getting more content such as this for a younger audience because it allows children the opportunity to explore the darker side of life without it being too traumatic. I think had the film been given more of a slight edge to it, the overall execution would have been better. As it stands, THE ADDAMS FAMILY is a creepy and kooky film that parents will enjoy taking their kids to see this Halloween season. THE ADDAMS FAMILY arrives in theaters this Friday, October 11, 2019 and you can read our interview with the directors here.

Shannon McGrew
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