It is easy to dismiss ‘The Addams Family’ as yet another unnecessary reboot since so many people are more familiar with Barry Sonnenfeld’s 1991 film and its 1993 sequel; yet, in actuality, this “creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky, and all-together ooky” family has been around since cartoonist Charles Addams brought them to the comic pages in 1938. Though nothing is more familiar than the 1964 television series with Carolyn Jones as vampiric matriarch Morticia and John Astin as the suave and debonair Gomez and its theme song which still causes fingers to snap along every time it plays. No matter which version you prefer, it is clear that the legacy of the Addams’ still lives on.
What separates The Addams Family from other lovable fictional families is their affinity for the macabre; the things we find strange, unusual, dark, or deadly, they take delight in. Despite their unusual tastes, they love each other like a “normal” family would. I believe that is why we love the Addams’. ‘The Addams Family’ – directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan (‘Sausage Party’) – does not stray from the dark humor previous versions are known for, yet still manages to be kid-friendly when compared to Sonnenfeld’s films (which went all out with its dark nature). It is more in-line with ‘Hotel Transylvania’ if that film had a bit of an edge. In fact, everything about ‘The Addams Family’ is near-reminiscent of ‘Hotel Transylvania’ from its animation style (which does not always feel theater-quality) to its story and themes, especially being a movie that was made to get kids in the spirit of Halloween (though it was actually released in October when compared to ‘HT’s September release).
The Addams Family are introduced as social outcasts as we see Gomez (Voice of Oscar Isaac), Morticia (Voice of Charlize Theron), Fester (Voice of Nick Kroll), Grandmama (Voice of the always-delightful Bette Midler), and dismembered hand Thing try to outrun an angry mob during Gomez and Morticia’s wedding ceremony. They eventually (and literally) run into Lurch (Voice of Conrad Vernon), a Frankenstein-looking figure making his escape from an abandoned mental institution, which becomes their home. Cut to thirteen years later, the Addams’ are enjoying their dull and dreary life with the addition of Wednesday (Voice of Chloë Grace Moretz) and Pugsley (Voice of Finn Wolfhard), two mischievous children who have been wielding weapons and torture devices since they were born. Most of the movie revolves around the children as they both have struggles; Wednesday is curious about what is outside the gate, while Pugsley is preparing for his Mazurka.
What drives the plot forward is a devious TV host named Margeaux Needler (Voice of Allison Janney), who specializes in selling houses. She checks out the Addams’ household and wants to redecorate it, yet does not take kindly to the peculiar family, while her daughter Parker (Voice of Elsie Fisher) finds a friend in Wednesday as she struggles to fit in at middle school.
‘The Addams Family’ is a basic animated kids’ movie, yet the fun lies in how it cleverly plays around with its sense of humor. Watching the family make dark quips and using all sorts of deadly and dangerous contraptions to have fun with each other are what make it what it is. When the worlds of the strange and perfect collide, it is easy to see how the movie can fail, yet ‘The Addams Family’ does not lose its steam as it also serves as a satire of the modern world we live in, adding to its message of “embracing the weird”. The casting is also perfect, though from the start, hearing Isaac and Theron impersonate their characters sounds clunky, you eventually accept it. The one voice that gets the most laughs is Snoop Dogg as the Addams’ Cousin Itt, a perm of hair who mostly speaks gibberish.
As far as reboots go, ‘The Addams Family’ is a better movie than given credit for, though it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if it was the stop-motion feature directed by Tim Burton when it was first developed.