The Addams Family (2019)

“This is my new look.”

Once a comic strip, then a TV show, followed by two film adaptations, and now an animated movie, The Addams Family has transcended time and format to become one of the more memorable names in all of pop culture. But why? After looking back on a few bits of each previous iteration, I still feel as if I hardly know these fictional characters, and don’t even try to make me name them. 2019’s The Addams Family doesn’t amend that realization, but only further proves it to be true. They’re creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky, and all together ooky. Yet there’s nothing about them you can’t learn or know that hasn’t already been said in that earworm of a theme song.

In a wacky looking movie that’ll undoubtedly secure the interest of each and every little tyke in the audience, The Addams Family also tries to appeal to the parents and the chaperones with a broad, unfocused set of adult centered themes. For instance, in the opening sequence, as Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) become man and wife, a mob of angry townspeople come wielding pitchforks and torches, forcing them to relocate to a clandestine location where hate and hostility never come knocking. They ironically land in New Jersey, making a home and raising a family in an abandoned insane asylum, and they’re sold at first sight. “It’s hideous, it’s horrible, it’s home,” they declare with a macabre affection. The Addams Family doesn’t lack for big sweeping ideas, but the execution sorely lacks heart. It’s a colorful balloon that pops once it reaches the clouds.

Like most mediocre movies, The Addams Family is an incredibly cumbersome story to summarize, and here it’s even worse because the erratic text messaging of the picture is more deserving of a long phone call. There’s simply no time to deal with any of the many issues brought up in the film. There’s the bullying of Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz, whose vocal performance if vastly more memorable than Finn Wolfhard’s take on the schleprock brother Pugsley), condemnation of social media, questions of legacy, and a seriously unfocused attempt at debunking the myths of normalcy. All of that’s tucked into a movie full of outlandish action and quirks and hi-jinks, and the mix never gels together as one cohesive piece. It’s as if somebody vomited out last night’s 3 course meal full of thought-provoking ideas in a handsome way. The Addams Family looks good, but there’s just something foul about it.

You don’t go into an animated film meant to pique the interest of children and still expect a ton of nuance from the storytelling department, but The Addams Family practically plays whack-a-mole with every topic it chooses to slide into the frame. Case in point is the quaint, cozy little town literally called “Assimilation” (zero points for originality there), that’s located in the valley beneath Addams family home. The streets are lined with cookie cutter houses being sold by the two-faced TV personality Margaux Needler (Allison Janney), who just so happens to be the real monster of the story, and whose obvious duplicity is exposed with the same subtly and grace as the crew of Scooby-Doo pulling a wacky mask off of the story’s villain. In the end, The Addams Family is a loud, visually appealing, and instantly forgettable family film, which means we’ll likely end up getting at least two more of them.

“They blow up so fast these days.”

Rating: 2 out of 5

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