Format: Streaming video from Hulu Plus on the new internet machine.
I like most of the versions of The Addams Family that I have encountered, with the first two movies (yes, there is a third, with an almost entirely new cast that was considered so reprehensible that it was never released on DVD) being the pinnacle of Addams in non-print media. So I was certainly curious about the animated version that was released last year. Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron seem like good casting for Gomez and Morticia—no one is going to touch Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston—but still, not bad. Honestly, I was curious to see how this would play as a kids’ film, and wondered if the film would bring in more of the traditional elements of the original Charles Addams comics.
And in a lot of respects, The Addams Family is true to at least the concept of the characters. The film starts with the wedding of Gomez and Morticia, which is broken up by an angry mob. The family flees, and our newlyweds look for a new home, eventually finding an abandoned and haunted asylum on a hilltop in New Jersey. We doodley-doo 13 years into the future, and now we have both Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz) and Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard). And, as tends to happen in such movies, we have a confluence of events.
Event one is the approaching ceremony involving Pugsley. This test of manhood, the sabre mazurka, is…well…a sort of Addams Family Bar Mitzvah designed to demonstrate that he is able to protect the family from attack. Pugsley, far more interested in explosives, is woefully unprepared for a ceremony that will require the attendance of the rest of the entire clan. At the same time, the land below the asylum is taken over by a woman named Margaux Needler (Allison Janney), who runs a home makeover show. Margaux has upped her game, though. Instead of merely making over a house, she’s made over an entire town with the goal of selling those homes and making a fortune. In an on-the-nose moment, we learn that she has named her new town Assimilation.
While all of this is happening, Margaux’s daughter Parker (Elsie Fisher) discovers the Addams house and meets Wednesday. They do not hit it off so much as find each other fascinating, and based on this interaction, Wednesday decides that she wants to go to the local school where, in true Addams style, she can torture kids her own age.
At this point, you are almost certainly figuring out that The Addams Family is about learning how to be yourself and that diversity is a good thing, well, you’re right. And truthfully, it’s a fine message to have for a movie for kids, since kids can be pretty brutal to anyone who is different from them. And, as should not be a shock here, there’s going to be some political subtext here as well. This isn’t hard to see, and because it’s pretty obvious, I’m not going to go that far into detail on it. It’s a nice touch that Wednesday rebels against her family for essentially the same thing. The Addamses, in her eyes, might well be different from the people in the town, but if she’s unable to be different from her family, then what’s the point? It’s a nice touch and a little bit of nuance in a movie that really needed it.
It’s fine, but it’s kind of lazy. We know exactly where this film is going once it gets going, and, beat for beat, it’s exactly the movie you think it’s going to be. There are nice moments and some good jokes, but it’s predictable.
There are some things I do appreciate. The voice cast is good, with Snoop Dogg filling in as Cousin Itt, and both Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara appearing as Morticia’s dead parents, Bette Midler shows up as Grandmama as well. I like these touches, because all of these cast members fit well.
I also like that we have someone who runs one of those incessant home improvement/buy a house shows that run 24/7 on networks like Home and Garden. I call these shows “Assholes Buying Houses,” and seeing them having the piss taken out of them is a good thing.
The Addams Family isn’t bad, but it’s also tame, which is a shame. It should be more dangerous, even for a kids’ movie. I didn’t hate it (and I liked it better than at least one Oscar nominee for the animated feature category), but I kind of hope it doesn’t get a sequel.
Why to watch The Addams Family (2019): These characters are indestructible.
Why not to watch: Making this a kids’ movie makes it filled with platitudes.