When it comes to the medium of television and film, history is bursting at the reels with iconic families. Seems like nearly every generation in the past few decades have known the share of icons within their immediate family in numerous genres. Where you’re talking about The Brady Brunch or The Partridge Family in the groovy 70s. Or the number of fresh, yet experimental, families of the 1980s. The Huxtables, Mr. Drummond’s biracial and groundbreaking home of Diff’rent Strokes, or the revolutionary television family in The Simpsons. Not to mention, the 1990s ushered in another completely different wave of family entertainment. Married…With Children told the tale of the Bundys, King of Queen focused on a marriage living with the bride’s father or Everybody Loves Raymond focusing on the Barones. The 2000’s a woke a new breed of family entertainment with reality television. Boasting runaway hits like Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Jon and Kate Plus 8.
Over the last several decades, entertainment has consistently pointed to one truth – not all families are created the same. No famous family embodies this more than The Addams Family. Over the years, we’ve seen the traditional incarnation of the creepy family with the early 1960s sitcom, the early 1990s movies, the late 1990s movie with Tim Curry we dare not talk about but the ooky and spooky family has returned. Though, this time they return in animation. The Addams Family feels in every regards like a traditional origin story. Truly embracing the chance to entrance a new generation to their values, antics and individuality.
Though, beyond the origin aspect of the film, the movie feels a bit more ambiguous than it truly wants to be. Addams spends the majority of its first two acts setting up three separate storylines that ultimately merge down into one. However, the journey to get there isn’t always the smoothest. In one corner of the storytelling, you have the curiosity of Wednesday Addams (Chloe Grace Mortez) desiring to go beyond the fog of the family’s mansion. In that curiosity, she befriends Parker (Elise Fisher). In another corner, you have Gomez (Oscar Isaac) preparing Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard) for his rite of passage Addams family tradition. Finally, you have the villainous, Margaux Needler (Alison Janey), attempting to remove the Addams family from her community to sell homes. Think Martha Stewart with Dolly Parton hair. Eventually, the business of the film fizzes out to a singular narrative. However, for such a short run time, the busy nature of the film lends more to the film being forgettable then actually enjoyable.
Even with all of the fog surrounding the family there is still a lot to love within the film. Namely, its rather impressive cast in Isaac, Charlize Theron’s Morticia, Nick Kroll’s Uncle Fester, & Mortez. The film largely feels like a love letter to its source material with these actors. Theron, though, might steal the film as the monotoned mother the most. Completely capturing the heart of the character, that we’ve come to love so well. Even Janey isn’t bad as the antagonist. The only real voice actor which flatlines is Wolfhard. While the majority of the cast embraces the roots of family’s source material, Wolfhard feels as if he’s doing an impression through his Stranger Things character. Largely feeling miscast to say the least.
With a busy story, already steering the film towards the forgettable territory, the animation doesn’t do much to help it either. In a world filled with beautiful animation like Frozen, Isle of Dogs, the Incredibles or The Lego Movie – animation has come so far in such a short period of time. The Addams Family feels like a film out of time. Its animation feels like it’s stuck in the early 2000s with the first Despicable Me or Meet the Robinsons. Its’ bland look unfortunately adds to its forgettability.
Overall, The Addams Family, is scary for all the wrong reasons. A narrative that attempts to embrace its source material, though never adequately is able to do so. A triple arced film that eventually fizzles down to a single arc, helps steer the film towards forgettable territory. When brought to life by outdated animation, the Addams are imprisoned and already fading before the credits even roll. Even with its bugs, the Addams aren’t without their charm though. Thanks to the brilliant voice cast of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Nick Kroll, and Chloe Grace Mortez. The source material can rest peacefully knowing this impressive cast kept their morbid behavior alive. The Addams Family feels more like the family from Say Cheese and Die – fast fading and forgettable.
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