Starting out as a cartoon strip created by New York cartoonist Charles Addams, The Addams Family was envisioned as a dark and twisted satire on common traditional 20th-century families, featuring a family that enjoyed all things dark and horrifying. It was only a matter of time before the comic strip would get translated into different forms of media, spawning a live-action sitcom in the ’60s, a decent ’70s animated series, and an even better-animated series in the ’90s. However, the Addams Family would get immortalised by the two live-action movies that were released in the early 1990s. But with Hollywood nowadays resorting to bank on nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake, it was only a matter of time before the Addams Family returned to the big screen, and they have in this recent animated installment.
The one constant, charming thing about the Addams Family has always been their delightful preference for things macabre, and sometimes, they push the envelope on what’s acceptable for family audiences. This film feels it’s more engineered towards younger kids, specifically the Nickelodeon demographic, having primarily just a lot of bugs and slime in service of the dark humour. While those softer changes don’t affect the quality of the film since it provides the film its most enjoyable, the general story and direction of the film comes off as bland and generic. The pacing is limp, taking a while before it gets into gear, which would cause even child audiences to scratch their heads and wonder when it’s going to get interesting anytime soon.
The main story was what dragged this film down, involving a villain who runs a home-improvement show, wants to build the perfect community called “Assimilation” (get it?!) and wants to get rid of the Addams Family since they refuse to change. It’s boring and stereotypical, especially after being done to death in countless family films before, and it sapped the energy out of this film, but most importantly, it didn’t feel like an Addams Family-type narrative. Plus, there are themes and messages present in the third act that feel too heavy-handed and on-the-nose, which ruins any form of subtlety this film could’ve had.
On the upside, it isn’t going to offend anyone, it’s 85 minutes long (which is how long this kind of film ought to be), it has some clever callbacks to the franchise, the voice cast was actually solid, and the Addams Family themselves are portrayed decently enough that they do feel reminiscent to their classic counterparts. Just a shame then its positives had to be inserted into a film they feel so formula-driven and by-the-numbers. Hopefully, its sequel could improve things and reignite that Addams Family magic, but considering how low this film was aiming, that seems like wishful thinking at this point.
Dir: Conrad Vernon,Greg Tiernan
Scr: Matt Lieberman, Erica Rivinoja, Conrad Vernon
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, Allison Janney
Prd: Gail Berman, Conrad Vernon, Alex Schwartz, Alison O’Brien
Music: Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna
Run time: 85 mins
The Addams Family is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray.