The Addams Family (2019) Review
FRIGHTENINGLY FUN ANIMATED REMAKE
They’re creepy and they’re kooky. Mysterious and spooky. They’re all together kooky. The Addams Family.” Yes, the classic property of “The Addams Family”, which has been around for quite some time. Created by cartoonish Charles Addams, the Addams Family was a satirical inversion of the ideal 20th century American family household as a sort of odd wealthy aristocratic clan who delight in the macabre and are seemingly unaware or unconcerned that other people find them bizarre or frightening. While Addams initially created the Addams Family as a comic strip for The New Yorker, the general public became acquainted with the “creepy” family within several adaptations, including The Addams Family TV series (1964-1966), director Barry Sonnenfeld’s two theatrical feature films (1991’s The Addams Family and993’s Addams Family Values), and cartoon TV series The Addams Family: The Animated Series (1992-1993). Now, the ghoulish lifestyles of the Addams return as Universal Pictures and directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan present the animated movie The Addams Family. Does the cartoon movie present spooky fun for this iconic family or is it dated and unnecessary revival?
After escaping from the Old Country, newlyweds Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia Addams (Charlize Theron) have decide to relocate to an abandoned haunted house in New Jersey, raising their two children Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz) and Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard) and filling out their spooky household with other members, including Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll), and servants Thing and Lurch (Conrad Vernon). Resting comfortably high on a hill, the Addams Family enjoys their seclusion and macabre quirks, surrounding themselves with monsters and grotesqueries. However, while Pugsley is forced to put down his taste for explosives and prepare for his Marzuka (an Addams rite of passage) for his upcoming birthday, Wednesday gets a taste of junior high courtesy of curious teen Parker (Elsie Fisher), with the Addams teenager desiring more time in the open world. Unfortunately, this draws ire from reality TV host Margaux Needler (Alison Janney) who wants to drive the Addams out of town for her desire for a perfect community to sell on her show.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
Growing up, I don’t remember the original Addams Family TV show as that was before my time, but I do remember watching the two early 90s feature films. Those movies I really did like and were my first taste of the macabre and strange happens that the Addams family had to offer. Additionally, I also do remember watching the animated series, which was pretty good and offered a more cartoon-ish fun to their Addams. However, those products were from the earlier half of the 90s era and there hasn’t been much in the way reviving the Addams Family….until now. I do vague reading (via online) about an Addams Family animated movie that was gonna come out and was a little bit intrigued by it. It wasn’t a “must see” film for me in the month of October, but it was something I was curious to see. Plus, the movie’s trailers for this new animated feature looked promising. So, I decided to check it out a few weeks after its release. What did I think of it? Well, I actually liked it. While the movie doesn’t reinvent the wheel and has some familiar beats, The Addams Family is a charmingly fun and entertaining remake that works. It has its flaws, but it’s ghoulish fun to watch.
The Addams Family is directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, the duo directors behind 2016’s Sausage Party. While both Vernon and Tiernan have a history background in animation in various roles, this movie marks the sophomore attempt of the collaboration work of Vernon and Tiernan and (to be honest) I definitely think it is the better of the two. While Sausage Party was more adult oriented and a bit controversial to some, Vernon and Tiernan definitely approach the Addams Family material with more “kids glove”; updating the iconic spooky family for a more modern audience and family friendly; easily making the premise and story accessible and easy to digest for all ages (whether you’re familiar with the characters or not). There are a few macabre sequences that might are not for the “juice box” crowds (i.e. the various attempts of Wednesday and Pugsley trying to kill each other), but most of those elements are played for laughs and will probably go over the heads of the younger viewers. Also, the movie also finds a nice rhythm within its runtime, which clocks in at around 87 minutes, balancing the story within its respective main characters (each of the main characters has something to do in the film) and creates a tighter movie with very little excessive subplots left unfinished by the time the film ends. Plus, the film’s humor (ranging from kids to adults) is quite “on-point” with its intended target; making the plethora of animated jokes and gags fun and amusing; accredited to Vernon / Tiernan staging of events in the movie as well as the feature’s script, which is penned by Pamela Pettler and Matt Lieberman with a story by Vernon, Liberman, and Erica Rivinoja. Additionally, the movie does find a whole message of heart, family, and the meaning of acceptance (i.e standing out in the crowd rather than “assimilate” into the general public eye). Thus, there’s a little bit of everything (whether young or old viewer out there) that The Addams Family has to offer and it is surely will delight / entertain them throughout the movie’s runtime.
Presentation-wise, The Addams Family is sort of a mixed bag and kind of weighs the feature down. What do I mean? Well, it’s not exactly a terrible animated movie (by no means), but the movie’s overall animation is a bit dull and dated. Of course, I do like the visual designs for all the various characters (humans, ghouls, monsters, etc), so that’s not the problem. The problem is the overall texturing of the animation; finding the whole endeavor to be lacking the “pizzazz” of colorful / detail that are quite customary for animated films of this day and age. I not saying that the movie needs to be hyper detail like a Disney / Pixar production (or even a DreamWorks or Illumination Entertainment), but the animation looks like something that was done in the middle to late 2000s. Again, I’m not saying that horrible, but it’s definitely not the best for an animated feature being released in 2019, which is disappointing.
The rest of technical viewpoint about the movie are fine as I do like the various art direction / conceptual designs for all the characters as well as the various setting piece, especially the Addams’s spooky mansion. Additionally, there are a few cinematography sequences that are pretty slick and well-presented, which do and a visual flair during those sequences, while the film’s score (composed by Jeff and Mychael Danna) delivers some great melodic moments here and there. Plus, in case you were wondering, the movie does feature the iconic Addams Family song in the film, which is always great to hear.
While the movie’s animation lacks detail and refined cartoon polish, there are a few others areas where the movie does draw criticism; holding the movie back from reaching its true potential. Perhaps the most notable is in the feature’s comparsion to the Hotel Transylvania movies; an animated film franchise that spins a humorous yarn of hotel for monsters that is run by Dracula. Once looking upon a few differences, it’s quite clearly to see the similarities between, which revolve around the clash / acceptance of being different that’s mind together with macabre cartoon-ish antics and various animated nuances. It’s all well and good (speaking of storytelling), but it feels a bit repetitive and has that feeling of “been there, done that”, which really doesn’t reinvent the narrative wheel. Of course, The Addams Family is a much older property than the Hotel Transylvania movies, but (again) it’s kind of has that feeling that seems quite reused and repurposed….in a very similar fashion. Additionally, there are a few areas in the film’s narrative (i.e. the script) could’ve been easily expanded upon and definitely could’ve added more substance. What’s presented is okay and certainly works within the framework of this breezy animated feature, but some parts of the story run a bit thin and probably could’ve been written better.
What outweighs those problems is the voice talents attached to this animated project, with the main principle cast of The Addams Family leading the charge and handling their respective characters in a charming and quite delectable way. Headlining the movie is actor Oscar Isaac and actress Charlize Theron, who play the patriarch and matriarch of the Addams family household…. Gomez and Morticia Addams. Together, both Isaac, known for his roles in Ex Machina, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Annihilation, and Theron, known for her roles in Atomic Blonde, Long Shot, and Snow White and the Huntsman, deliver some solid performance as Gomez and Addams, with each anchoring the feature in their character’s involvement and quirky (and entertaining) personas. Likewise, actress Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick Ass and Let Me In) and actor Finn Wolfhard (IT and Stranger Things) are terrific in the roles as the two Addams children Wednesday and Pugsley, with the narrative equally balancing their respective personal journey throughout the movie.
Behind the core Addams family, actress Allison Janney (The West Wing and Mom) does a perfect interpretation of the self-absorb and over zealous Margaux Needler, who acts as the movie’s main antagonist. It seems like Janney might be “typed cast” for the role (she definitely has the voice for it), but it definitely works within The Addams Family and definitely sells the inane villainy that Margaux possess in the feature. Additionally, actor Nick Kroll (Sausage Party and Sing) does a humorous portrayal of the Addams’s kooky relative, Uncle Fester (lisp and all), while actress Elise Fisher (Eighth Grade and Castle Rock) provides the voice of Margaux’s daughter, Parker Needler. However, while I get the character of Parker and what she stands in the movie’s narrative, I felt that this was the only character in the movie that was a letdown in both how she’s written and how Fisher plays her.
The rest of the cast, including actress Bette Midler (The First Wives Club and Hocus Pocus) as Grandma, musician Snoop Dog in a fun interpretation of Cousin It, actress Catherine O’Hara (Home Alone and Best in Show) as Grandma Frump, actor Martin Short (Innerspace and Inherent Voice) as Grandpa Frump, actress Jenifer Lewis (The Preacher’s Wife and The Princess and the Frog) as Great Auntie Sloom, and even Conrad Vernon who provides the voice of Lurch (and several other minor ones) are delegated to supporting players in The Addams Family. Collectively, these characters might not have the “spotlight” as much of the rest of the cast, but they do fill out the film’s rank of characters nicely, with the voice talents behind spot on.
Everyone’s spooky family returns to the silver screen for an animated remake in the movie The Addams Family. Directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan sophomore collaboration projects takes the classic property of the Addams Family and updates for a new generation; presenting an animated tale that’s easy to follow and fun macabre romp to view. While the film’s animation could’ve been better and some of the narrative pieces could’ve been better handled (adding more substance in some and not being too similar to Hotel Transylvania), the movie finds its stride within its creepy humor, a character-based story, impressive voice talents, and a tight runtime. To me, I actually liked this movie. Yes, the overall animation texture doesn’t look quite appealing (looking dated) and some things are a bit wonky in the narrative (nothing truly groundbreaking), I find the movie to be humorous and fun to watch. Thus, my recommendation for this movie is a solid “recommended” one. Interestingly, a sequel movie has already been greenlit by the studios with a tentative release date for October 20th, 2021. What awaits in this future sequel still remains to be seeing, yet I’m quite curious as to what the story animated tale will be about. In the end, The Addams Family is a “frighteningly fun” animated remake that works and is perfect to be a little “creepy and kooky” for all ages during the Halloween season.
3.9 Out of 5 (Recommended)
Released On: October 11th, 2019
Reviewed On: October 31st, 2019
The Addams Family is 87 minutes long and is rated PG for macabre and suggest humor, and some action