Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Addams Family (2019): A Review (Review #1290)


The delight in any version of The Addams Family is how decidedly and unapologetically off-kilter they are while in so many ways being the embodiment of a pleasant bourgeois family. They have a perfectly normal manner to them while being highly eccentric by most standards. This version of The Addams Family is not bad, but it isn't much of anything really.

After escaping 'the old country' due to mobs railing against them, Addams Family patriarch Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and matriarch Morticia (Charlize Theron) seek refuge in the 'worst' place possible. Obviously, it's New Jersey, specifically a former insane asylum with an evil spirit shouting "GET OUT!" much to their delight.

Here they raise their children: daughter Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz) and son Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard). Wednesday begins to wonder about 'the outside world' while Pugsley trains for his Mazurka, which appears to be the Addams Family version of a bar mitzvah.

The immediate outside world consists of the perfectly colorful world of Assimilation, run by Margaux Needler (Allison Janney), host of Margaux's Remodeling Intervention.

If nothing, The Addams Family is not subtle.

Margaux is appalled at the Addams' ghoulish world versus her pristine and profitable one, as they could put a damper on her television and marketing business. She plots to get rid of the Addams and prevent Wednesday from influencing her daughter Parker (Elsie Fisher) from going goth. The Mazurka and Margaux stories collide as the latter plots to storm the Addams home during the former when the entire extended family comes. Ultimately, the extended Addams Family opts to stay in Assimilation, finding it all wonderfully weird.

Image result for the addams family 2019In retrospect, The Addams Family felt like the pilot for an animated television series, and I can see this being spun off into a series. However, that's a bit of the negative, in that The Addams Family, while in some ways pleasant, does not have much going for it.

It's as if Matt Lieberman and Pamela Pettler's screenplay (with story credits by Lieberman and Erica Rivinoja) could not find one overall story so they opted to have a couple of stories floating about. Moreover, they seemed to go overboard with the message of 'tolerance' and 'acceptance' I think they were going for.

A town called 'Assimilation'? Really? The 'villainess' name being "Needler"? Was she 'needling' others? The notion that the Assimilationists could be whipped up into a frenzy of fear and hatred by people they had little to no interaction with seems a stretch. Doing shout-outs to the television series, down to ending the film with the familiar Addams Family theme song in almost sing-along fashion, does not help in making this version its own take on the material.

It is not as if The Addams Family doesn't have some positives. I did like the animation and in particular some of the details. Of particular note is Wednesday's design, which added nooses to her pigtails, a nice touch to her macabre childlike manner. Moretz was strong in her characterization, keeping to Wednesday's decidedly monotone and morose manner which in her is always endearing.

Image result for the addams family 2019
I thought well of Isaac as the lovelorn Gomez and Theron was surprisingly light as the morbid Morticia. A surprising twist and perhaps the only genuine moment of laughter is when family majordomo Lurch bursts into a surprisingly falsetto version of R.E.M.'s Everybody Hurts, a song whose earnestness seems ripe for irony and spoofing.

On the whole though, The Addams Family, while not terrible, isn't something to rush out to see. I figure some children will like it, albeit really young children will find it more scary than delightful. I don't know if it tried too hard to stretch whatever story it wanted to tell, but the most I could say about this Addams Family is that it would make for a nice animated show pilot.

Unlike Wednesday or Pugley's newest schemes, The Addams Family is not threatening or harmful but not likely to work either. 


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