The Addams Family (2019) is an animated feature film based on characters from Charles Addams’ series of cartoons by the same name about a strange and ghoulish family, and was directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon. Written by Matt Lieberman, the film boasts an all-star voice cast that includes Oscar Isaac as Gomez, Charlize Theron as Morticia, Chloë Grace Moretz as Wednesday, Finn Wolfhard as Pugsley, Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester, Snoop Dogg as cousin It (yes, really), Bette Midler as Grandma, Allison Janney as Margaux Needler, and Elsie Fisher as Parker Needler. After searching for years for someone to share life with, Gomez and Morticia are married in a secret ceremony that gets interrupted by a group of angry villagers, who hate the Addams’ because of their look and lifestyle. Upon their escape, the two attempt to find a home for themselves in the nearby countryside, settling on an abandoned mansion haunted by spirits and decaying from rot – it’s perfect for them. But life won’t stay perfect for long, and after a housing developer builds a neighborhood just down the hill from their home, the Addams family is discovered by an unknown resident, whose life quickly take a turn for the stranger. At the same time, Pugsley is preparing for a special ceremony wherein he will prove himself worthy of the Addams family name. With their safety now potentially in jeopardy due to their neighbors’ fear of the unknown, their extended family coming into town in just 2 weeks for Pugsley’s ceremony, and the housing developer prepping for her series finale at the same time, the Addams must come out of the shadows in which they have isolated themselves, and maybe change their town for the better along the way.
I’ll be honest; I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this movie when I saw its first trailer. I was aware of who the Addams family was, what all of their deals were, and that they’re generally beloved characters by those who grew up watching the original cartoons in the 80’s and 90’s, but because I didn’t also grow up watching those cartoons, I didn’t have a particularly nostalgic feeling for seeing them on screen again. In fact, most people didn’t seem to have a lot of want for an Addams Family movie, by my estimation, so the fact that the studio chose to make this film (although it did come with the benefit of a Halloween-centric release) seemed odd. The animation style seemed as if the studio just threw some money at a couple of filmmakers and said “as long as it doesn’t look like Pixar, Dreamworks, or Blue Sky, knock yourself out.” Even the trailers themselves didn’t exactly make the movie look particularly good, signaling another mindless cash-grab for kids that would might’ve ended up quite insufferable for adults. Thankfully, that’s not the case entirely, try as Addams Family might to make it that way.
This really is more of a movie for children when it comes down to the main target demographic, but at least for the first half, adults can enjoy a bit of decent entertainment as well. It’s not perfect, but the Addams family itself is pretty well realized overall, with some standout vocal turns from Chloë Grace Moretz, Oscar Isaac, and Charlize Theron. The film really focuses mainly on their three characters for the most part, and during that initial act and a half, they’re fun to follow, their weird natures becoming sort of their charming points of focus, with some pretty funny (if not remarkably clever) running gags that pay off well during the movie’s later sections. The movie also has a pretty great message to give to kids, too, about not judging people just because they’re different, this being the lesson the Addams family needs to learn instead of the other way around (though instantly forgiving the kind of people who just tried to kill you and destroy your home isn’t exactly them just being “different,” but then again, that would require nuance, something this movie only seems to hint at understanding). Really, the standout character is Morticia, who could be considered the main character as well, if not for sharing almost equal screen-time with Gomez. Wednesday is great, and walks away with most of the best lines in the film, but it’s Morticia who gets to be the conflicted one when news of the new neighborhood comes to light and she has to learn to become unafraid of the outside world again, as much as she has justification to be wary of its contents. Charlize Theron is really good here, and the development of Morticia’s character is actually one of the first half’s strongest elements.
Unfortunately, the second half of the film is what loses most of the muster it built up, and most of that has to do with the town below the Addams’ mansion, as well as the housing developer who runs it. She’s meant to act as a sort of “villain” of the piece, but we never really get to see what her deal is, nor what the deal is with her daughter. Allison Janney is Allison Janney, so she does solid work in her vocal performance, but her and Elsie Fisher’s characters are so bare-bones, there wouldn’t be much room in the script for the caliber of performance Janney would otherwise be able to give in the first place. The movie introduces the idea of developing her and her daughter beyond their base elements, but then never actually makes good on that apart from when her daughter and Wednesday switch outfits at one point in the film, a moment that’s never actually paid off later on after it happens.
And that’s what a lot of the second half of this movie is like, which is my main issue with it on the whole, aside from the fart and poop jokes that will just never be funny unless Lord & Miller have their hands on the script: the development of any interesting ideas or complex takes beyond the surface level of what we’re seeing on screen is almost immediately forgotten about once that idea has been used to execute an obvious or childish joke. Some concepts are introduced and seem interesting at the time, but the movie doesn’t really do anything with them, sort of flinging them out everywhere as if just presenting an interesting idea would make the movie more interesting. At one point, the idea of Wednesday going to public school with the normal kids is introduced, but after attending all of two days of classes (and only one that we actually see), we never get to see that storyline carry any meaning into the rest of the picture. And that development of Morticia Addams? It barely registers at all and ends up being entirely unnecessary because she was right about the threats to her home the entire time. What a waste of something that could have been surprisingly compelling.
The Addams Family (2019) isn’t exactly a bad movie, but the fact that it never develops beyond its more juvenile sensibilities doesn’t help it to reach any other types of viewers who might have otherwise been interested. Decent animated entertainment can be fun for both kids and adults, but this movie seems content only to appeal to children, and its second half betrays that notion by being choppy, poorly developed, and uneven in its execution, despite a pretty solid first half setting up a lot of good will for the film moving forward. As far as family movies in 2019 go, one could admittedly do worse, but then one could also do much better. Looks like it’s back to the grave for the Addams’.
I’m giving “The Addams Family (2019)” a 5.6/10
- The Friendly Film Fan
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Film critic in my free time. Film enthusiast in my down time. Writer for Bitesize Breakdown.