Maybe it could have been darker and sharper, but The Addams Family is, after all, a family film, one designed to be enjoyed by all ages.
The film is also about a family, of course, but a functional, fun family. Despite their love for all things ghoulish and macabre, the Addams clan is a devoted and loving one. It’s the rest of the world that’s out of whack.
It was cartoonist Charles Addams who conceived The Addams Family, which became a popular mainstay of The New Yorker beginning in 1938. The ‘60s television series followed, as well as a pair of well-made but curiously unsatisfying feature films (The Addams Family in 1991 and Addams Family Values in 1993), and a Broadway musical (starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth). Unquestionably, The Addams Family has emerged as an American pop-culture staple.
As it’s based on a cartoon, an animated format perfectly suits the new version of The Addams Family, which is co-directed by Conrad Vernon (also a producer) and Greg Tiernan, who earlier helmed the animated raunch-fest Sausage Party (2016). The characters resemble the original Addams creations (with a few minor adjustments), and there’s plenty of room for in-jokes and visual puns.
The star-studded voice-over cast includes Oscar Isaac (having a ball as Gomez), Charlize Theron (Morticia), Chloe Grace Moretz (Wednesday), Finn Wolfhard (Pugsley), Nick Kroll (Uncle Fester), Bette Midler (Grandmama), co-director Vernon (Lurch), and, in perhaps the most inspired bit of casting, Snoop Dogg as Cousin Itt. Thing’s around too but doesn’t talk.
Having taken up residence in an abandoned asylum – replete with a ghost that constantly tells them to “Get out!” – the Addamses are quite content to be left to their own devices, but just down the hill is the picture-perfect suburban burg of Assimilation, lorded over by the perennially perky and relentlessly bossy reality-T.V. hostess and busybody Margaux Needler (voiced by Allison Janney).
Even though Margaux’s daughter Parker (voiced by Eighth Grade’s Elsie Fisher) befriends Wednesday, Margaux makes no secret of her distaste for the Addamses – simply because they’re not like anyone else, which is something of an understatement.
Cultural diversity is not the typical fodder for a family-friendly animated feature, but it’s a nice message, and the filmmakers wisely don’t pound it into the ground. The primary goal, after all, is entertainment, and with its eye-popping visual effects (quite impressive whether in 2-D or 3-D) and speedy pacing, The Addams Family provides just that. When the Vic Mizzy theme song, replete with bouncing ball and lyrics, is played before the end credits, it’s hard to resist joining along.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2019, Mark Burger.