I’ve never been the biggest mark for The Addams Family. Aspects of the show stuck with me – Uncle Fester, Thing, Lurch, Cousin Itt, John Astin on the original show – but I never reached beyond an appreciation to full-blown fandom. The closest I came was the Saturday morning cartoon from the 90s – that only existed because of those ’92/’93 live-action films with Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, and Christina Ricci.
And the show (the original) has a devoted following; it wouldn’t have survived cancellation after only two seasons to become a pop-culture staple if people didn’t discover it in syndication. With that, here we are over 50 years later and there is an animated reboot just in time for Halloween. It’s waited long enough to get one and I’m sure MGM’s heart is in the right place but, really, I don’t know if I’d call this one worthy of expectations.
Morticia and Gomez Addams are driven from the “old country” by angry villagers on their wedding night and, on the back of Fester (quite seriously), flee to “a place no one in their right mind would go.” So they wind up in New Jersey (not next to Crystal Lake, unfortunately) and feather their nest – or weave their cobwebs, I guess – in an old Gothic asylum.
13 years pass and their clan grew to include mischievous progeny Pugsley and Wednesday, as well as humble hulking manservant Lurch. Preoccupied with explosives, Pugsley is reaching the age of maturity and must prepare for the ceremonial Addams initiation into manhood: a “Sabre Mazurka.” The entire family is coming to town to see this.
Meanwhile, Wednesday wants to make friends and attend junior high which might affect her usual cold, deadpan demeanor. And home-improvement lady Margaux Needler has it in for the Addamses because she wants to sell some property. Hard to do when there is a creepy mansion just beyond the fog.
You’ve seen it before. For something bearing the Addams Family name, it feels like a spinoff of Hotel Transylvania. That film tackled similar themes to greater effect.
The cast is near perfect, though. Oscar Isaac is no Raul Julia but he loses himself in Gomez – same for Charlize Theron as Morticia. Her voice is made for the role. Chloe Grace Moretz is equally as good as Wednesday and honestly the runaway performance of the film. Appearing years earlier in Dark Shadows, she has a knack for this stuff.
Nick Kroll is Uncle Fester and a largely lost opportunity. His nerdy impression is cliche as it gets and his jokes are pedestrian and weak. I suppose there’s no outdoing Christopher Lloyd, or the late Rip Taylor who voiced Gomez’s brother for the cartoon series, but more effort could’ve been put into that character.
I hoped it would be funnier. Addams Family is silly and zany in all the right ways but the jokes are trite and don’t always land. I smiled a few times and there were some minor chuckles from other moviegoers. Still, “uproarious” isn’t a word that applies.
The dialogue is, simply, “cute,” at best. It’s a movie for children and parents brought their kids to the theater. I don’t recall any bursts of laughter from that demo. Can’t get them to laugh then something is amiss.
The Addams Family is still creepy and kooky but it’s okay to skip this version. The animation is fine and we have a decent cast yet the story needs work. There are some pacing issues; it starts slow and then wraps up just as it gets good. If serious fans are underwhelmed, don’t be surprised, even if this film does well.
- Oscar Isaac as Gomez
- Chloe Grace Moretz is a good Wednesday
- The Addams Family IP hasn't lost appeal
- Weak jokes
- Cliche, by-the-numbers story
- Not what it could be