Animation Comedy

Review: ‘The Addams Family’ is Dark and Wholesome Fun

October 11, 2019Ferdosa Abdi

The Addams Family has been around for a very long time — 81 years, to be exact — and it all began with a New Yorker cartoon by Charles Addams. A strange and unusual group of people who love and support each other as any good family does, the Addamses came to life in 1964 when ABC adapted the cartoon series as a sitcom. Now the delightfully macabre family is starring in their first-ever animated feature.

In this latest iteration, Gomez and Morticia Addams (Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron) are a newlywed couple driven from their home by the townspeople. Fearing for the safety of their family, they decide to move to a place that will welcome them as they are, finding a new home in an abandoned and haunted asylum on the top of a hill in New Jersey. Fast-forward thirteen years and the Addamses are a happy (in their own way) family — that is, until the local townspeople discover their existence. As a result, the Addamses must either assimilate to fit the town's de facto leader Margaux Needler's (Allison Janney) vision of normal or perish.

The film primarily serves as an introduction for a new generation, but it is still rooted in familiar character and plot beats from previous incarnations, fusing bits and pieces of the different versions of the Addamses from the last eight decades. The animation style is a 3D rendering of Charles Addams' original cartoon, while the humor straddles the line between the G-rated, family-friendly humor of the 1964 sitcom and the slightly edgier comedy of Barry Sonnenfeld's '90s live-action adaptations. Ultimately, the movie is crafted to be accessible for all audiences, especially those who may be more familiar with the recent Hotel Transylvania trilogy.

With a new crop of actors bringing the kooky family to life, it has to be said that the voice cast does a phenomenal job capturing the essence of their characters while bringing some new elements to them. There are very few words to describe how perfect cast Isaac is as Gomez, and Theron also does a splendid job as Morticia, doing a lot to differentiate herself from the rather iconic portrayals of the matron by Carolyn Jones and Anjelica Huston. As for the rest of the cast, which includes Chloë Grace Moretz as Wednesday, Finn Wolfhard as Pugsley and Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester, they also do a wonderful job living up to the high expectations of fans.

Since this is an animated family film, however, the core themes of assimilation, conformity and prejudice lack subtlety. That said, what's not to love about a kooky and spooky family who embrace one another and celebrate their uniqueness? It's a message that may seem derivative, but Charles Addams was a pioneer of this kind of story. And the fact that The Addams Family exists is a testament to their enduring power and what they have to say about the prejudices society has against those who do not conform to societal norms.

The Addams Family releases October 11th, 2019 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG for macabre and suggestive humor, and some action. Its runtime is 1 hr. 27 min.

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