Written by: Matt Patti | October 10th, 2019
The Addams Family (Greg Tiernan/Conrad Vernon, 2019) 3 out of 4 stars.
Growing up, my father always used to talk about these people called “The Addams Family.” He would reference a character called “Cousin It” and “Morticia.” Of course, I never knew what he was talking about; I never saw any of the Addams Family TV shows or films. In fact, the only thing I really knew about the series was the catchy tunethat is played at many Halloween events alike. So, let this be a forewarning: I cannot judge this new Addams Family film from the lens of a lifelong fan of the older series/films, only by the merits of the new film. Therefore, there will be no comparisons to be found in this review … only my pure thoughts on MGM’s 2019 The Addams Family.
Directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon’s family-friendly spooky flick begins with a wedding between a short, stubby gentleman named Gomez, voiced by Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina) and a tall, skinny, pale woman with black hair, Morticia, voiced by Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road). The entire Addams family attends the wedding, and you can tell there is something off about all of them. They all look quite creepy and unusual, and have some odd, surprising traditions. Soon, townsfolk arrive at the wedding and attack the family, forcing them to flee. Newly wedded Gomez and Morticia Addams drive off and leave the town, searching for a new home to fit their creepy needs. They find an abandoned insane asylum on a hill and decide to move in and start their new family there.
Years later, Gomez and Morticia have two children, a butler, and a few strange pets. One of the children, Pugsley Addams (Stranger Things‘ Finn Wolfhard) has a coming-of-age celebration a few weeks away, in which he must prove he is ready to protect the family at all costs in a sword-fighting performance in front of the entire family. Just down the hill, a real estate agent, Margaux Needler (Allison Janney, The Help) is preparing for a video shoot that will happen on the same day the whole Addams family will be coming into town, when she finally notices the eyesore of a mansion on top of the hill. Soon, the Addams Family start to interact with the townsfolk down below. Can the townsfolk accept the creepy, disturbing Addams Family’s way of life? Or will they run them out of town like the villagers did many years ago?
I found this film to be a pleasant surprise. I didn’t go in with many expectations, as I figured it would probably be a decent film for kids with maybe a few laughs for adults. It was so much more than that. Truth be told, I don’t watch many animated films these days, but maybe I should start to watch more. The Addams family is a great film for children and adults alike. The animation style is very stylized and well-done to suit the spooky-but-silly vibe of the Addams Family. The premise is a good one and the lesson, as in so many animated children’s films, was very apparent, if not a bit too overstated: don’t judge people because they’re different, and accept others’ differences. I was really pleased by the writing, specifically the situations the characters find themselves in and the way they deal with them. It really lets the Addams Family’s uniqueness shine in certain everyday situations. A great part of the film involves Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz, The Miseducation of Cameron Post), Gomez and Morticia’s daughter, as she goes to junior-high and does NOT try to fit in with the kids there. Instead, she does everything she can to stand out, and enjoys it. I thought that was a nice touch and a complement to the film’s overall message.
The comedy in the movie works, for the most part, but sometimes doesn’t hit home. There are some random puns and forced famous sayings that sometimes come out of characters that either don’t make sense or just simply aren’t funny. There are also a few references to other films/characters outside of the Addams Family world that sometimes work, and sometimes don’t. Thankfully, there isn’t too much forced, slapstick humor in this film, and the instances when it is there aren’t awful. The funniest aspect of the film, by far, is the fact that the members of the Addams Family do and say (for the most part) the complete opposite of what most people do on a daily basis. However, my biggest issue with the film is that it is not always consistent with this choice. For example, in one scene a member of the Addams family may say something along the lines of “Terrible to see you!” or “I hope your ride here was uncomfortable” or something of the sorts. However, in another scene, the same character may say “This might be good for me” or “That’s great to hear!”. These aren’t official quotes, but they are close to what I heard Addams Family members say in the movie. I just think if the film makes the choice to have the Addams Family be the opposite of a normal family in almost every way, even in their speaking, it should stick to it at all costs. A few of the times when they said something positive it actually caught me off guard.
Overall, The Addams Family is far better than I’d imagined it would be, going in. It is funny, clever, has a good moral and take on today’s society, and is even a bit heartwarming at some points. It’s a film that I believe is perfect for the entire family, and that, perhaps, even the fans of the original Addams Family would enjoy … even though I’m not qualified to speak on that topic.