The latest incarnation of The Addams Family sees everyone’s favorite clan of creeps facing off against a scheming Home and Garden Network host (Allison Janney) intent upon turning their neighborhood against the titular family and trying to get The Addams to conform to her idea of normal.
My biggest concern going into this redux was that directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon stay true to the macabre spirit of The Addams Family that fans know and love. And I’m pleased to report that while this is an updated version of The Addams Family, the film is still full of gallows humor and even a few horror movie references (most notably a nod to Pennywise The Dancing Clown). But parents shouldn’t despair, the flick is still relatively kid friendly. Most of the dark humor will go right over the head of anyone under age ten and nothing too terribly graphic transpires, anyway.
On the topic of humor, a surprising number of the jokes land. They aren’t all winners. There are a couple of groan worthy attempts at comedy. But there are some very creative quips and even some unexpected references that caught me off guard. In one particularly humorous and memorable scene, we get to see Thing help Lurch play the Addams Family theme song on the piano.
Speaking of Thing, that severed hand has several scene-stealing moments and perhaps actually benefits from the switch back to animation (Fun Fact: The earliest incarnation of The Addams Family was in cartoon form in The New Yorker). Being entirely animated, Thing is able to emote a bit more and is gifted some truly memorable scenes in this redux.
Fan favorite character Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) is given a great deal of screen time and a substantial storyline of her own. Moretz was a bit of a surprising casting choice for me, given her sunny disposition but she tackled the role with aplomb. The takeaway from both Wednesday’s arc and the greater theme of the film is to embrace individuality and show kindness to others, even if they are different from you. And, I have to say that was pretty spot on. I can’t think of a much more relevant message to be sharing with the masses at the moment.
Allison Janney has some great lines as Margaux Needler, the Home and Garden TV host with sinister intentions. She also has the important distinction of reminding viewers that the most outwardly ‘normal’ looking people often turn out to be far more broken and disturbed than those who openly march to the beat of their own drum.
Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron lend their vocal talents to Gomez and Morticia, respectively and they both appear to be having a great time with it. Theron really embodied the macabre nature of Morticia. Like Moretz, she struck me as an unusual choice for the role but it ultimately worked well. Isaac fully bought in to Gomez and although he’s a bit over the top at times, his performance was nonetheless enjoyable.
The weakest of the bunch is probably Finn Wolfhard’s Pugsley. It’s really no fault of Wolfhard’s but of the immediate family, he is the least engaging and ultimately the least interesting character in this reimagining.
Some fans may be put off by the fact that the family members look a bit different in this incarnation. But, I was actually pleased to see that the physicality of the characters in Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon’s reboot is very similar to Charles Addams’ original cartoons that started running in The New Yorker in the late 1930s.
The Addams Family (2019) wouldn’t have worked nearly as well as it did if it weren’t for a talented team of animators. The animation is quite lifelike. And while I’m usually not usually a huge fan of the more modern CGI animation style, I have to give credit to the animators for giving the characters a distinct look and physical mannerisms that matched their personalities.
Perhaps the film’s biggest weakness is Matt Lieberman and Pamela Pettler’s screenplay. The plot is a bit threadbare. Not a whole lot happens during the picture’s 87-minute runtime. There’s a strong message about individuality at the picture’s core but it almost felt as though so much time was spent delivering a message that the storyline came as a bit of an afterthought. With that said, it’s still quite a bit of fun to get the chance to catch up with the immediate and extended members of The Addams Family and that’s enough to warrant checking out this redux. The Addams Family will hit theatres Friday, October 11th.
WICKED RATING: 6.5/10
Director(s): Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon
Writer(s): Matt Lieberman and Pamela Pettler
Stars: Charlize Theron, Oscar Isaac, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, and Nick Kroll
Release: October 11, 2019
Studio/ Production Co: MGM, BRON Studios