I grew up watching reruns of The Addams Family on television. I have an unhealthy obsession with Oscar Isacc, just one member of the movie’s all-star voice cast. Add those two things to the fact that the trailers looked super cute and I had high hopes for The Addams Family‘s first animated feature-length film. While the movie wasn’t exactly bad, I can’t say it lived up to my expectations, either.
The film begins with Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia’s (Charlize Theron) wedding. They’re interrupted by pitchfork-wielding villagers, forcing Morticia and Gomez to relocate to a place “no one in their right mind would be caught dead in”. Queue a sign for New Jersey, and a prime example of the jokes you’ll find throughout the film. The jokes might make you laugh, but the laughs aren’t coming from a particularly clever place.
After the family literally runs into Lurch and relocates to the insane asylum he escaped from, we jump forward 13 years. Morticia and Gomez are now the devoted parents of Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz) and Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard).
The story shifts into three simultaneous storylines going forward. Home improvement show host Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) has created a town named Assimilation, and she can’t let those weird Addamses keep her new homes from selling. Margaux’s daughter Parker (Elsie Fisher) has the desire to break free from the cookie-cutter life forced on her in Assimilation, while new friend Wednesday wants to wear pink and become a little more like everyone else. And finally, Pugsley wants to build and play with his weapons, while his father wants him to practice for the Mazurka. The Mazuka, in case you were wondering, is an intricate sword dance that is clearly an Addams-style riff on a Bat Mitzvah.
Directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan hit the jokes and the “be yourself” messaging hard, and the film’s resolution seems a little too easy when all is said and done. The film is likely to entertain the kids, while leaving adults grateful that at least it wasn’t actively bad.
Should parents be concerned about taking their children to see The Addams Family? Probably not. There’s no foul language. There’s violence-Pugsley does like to play with his weapons, after all-but not blood or gore. Despite the macabre setting, the film is shockingly unscary, even for the littlest of viewers. There are touches of adult humor here and there, like the discovery that Thing apparently has a foot fetish. The throwaway jokes and the heavy-handed themes-the very things that kept me from loving the movie-are probably the exact things that kids will enjoy.
The film gets some things right. The voice cast is superb, and the visual design of the family has a charming familiarity with Charles Addams’ original comic characters. The well-intentioned theme of The Addams Family, that it’s okay to be yourself, is a good one. Is this film going to be changing any hearts and minds to that end? Probably not. It needs to be significantly smarter than it is to accomplish that. But hey, if someone walks away thinking it’s ok to wear pink, that’s not such a bad thing.
About The Addams Family
Get ready to snap your fingers! The first family of Halloween, the Addams Family, is back on the big screen in the first animated comedy about the kookiest family on the block. Funny, outlandish, and completely iconic, the Addams Family redefines what it means to be a good neighbor.
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg as “IT”, with Bette Midler and Allison Janney
Also starring Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Tituss Burgess, Jenifer Lewis, Elsie Fisher, Aimee Garcia
The Addams Family is in theaters now.