It would be difficult for me to believe that one of my favourite animated films of 2019 would be The Addams Family. Reinventing the origin story for a new generation on a limited MGM entry budget was not something that the world was necessarily clamouring for.
This new 2019 animated version of The Addams Family is directed by Greg Tiernan and assembles an all star celebrity cast including Charlize Theron, Oscar Isaac, Chloe Grace Moretz along with Bette Midler and Allison Janney. The animation style is not on a Pixar or Dreamworks level, however the animation style suits the macabre world setting and delivers an effective visual style that sets it apart from its current competition. That being said there can be a lot of comparisons to Sony‘s recent Hotel Transylvania franchise, fortunately the stellar cast and inclusive story does lean heavily into Addams‘ family past while bringing it fully into the current time.
The story revolves around the Addams family, a gothic family started by Gomez (Isaacs) and Morticia (Theron) who after getting married, are chased out of the town they live in with their extended family. Taking up residence in New Jersey, in the middle of the road they stumble upon Lurch (Conrad Vernon) an escapee from a mental asylum. The trio end up taking residence and start a family with their daughter Wednesday (Moretz) and Puggsley (Finn Wolfhard). The family live there safe and concealed by a cloud of mist, cut off from the rest of the world.
A few years pass and a new housing community hilariously titled ‘Assimilation’ is being built by lifestyle reality TV show guru Margeaux Needler (Janney) just down from the Addams family manor. The mist lifts, imposing a garish view of the dark manor not allowing Needler to sell houses in her new community soon to be opened.
Back at the home, Morticia and Wednesday are arguing as Wednesday is starting to attend the local school and is getting into things like pink unicorn clips and shopping at the mall. Similarly Margeaux is struggling as her daughter Parker (Elsie Fisher) is hanging out with Wednesday and leaning into the more gothic lifestyle. The parallels between the two worlds are pretty plainly pointed out, while the over-arching themes of being true to yourself, regardless of what everyone else around you is doing, is drummed pretty well into the heart of the story. There is also a coming-of -age ceremony for Puggsley that he is training for, which is bringing the entire extended Addams family into town to celebrate and witness. Regrettably this part of the story is really skimmed over and by the time the big ceremony comes around, you don’t really know what he has to do or why.
The animation style does look a little dated, but it is for the best. It has the look of an indie 3D animated studio just starting out and it isn’t a bad thing, as it really added to the tone of the film perfectly. There are also intricate details like Morticia‘s flowing dress that looks like a squid with tentacles squirming on the ground. The pet lion is also beautifully detailed like an updated Warner Bros: Looney Tunes character. The mise-en-scene is also incredibly detailed in this film with so many background objects subtly moving around and making subtle gestures, it all adds to the gloomy and interesting world of the Addams family.
Performance wise Theron and Isaac come off as a little bit strange and out of place. It is the most disappointing part of the film. Theron sounds like she is phoning it in and Isaac has a weird European accent that drifts in and out which is very confusing at times. While smaller children may not remember this, it is pretty obvious to everyone else. Fortunately Moretz, Middler and Janney all bring their ‘A-Game’ here, breathing life into the characters by providing a confused child growing up overprotected, a doting and interfering grandmother and a two faced villain who is also raising a daughter, adding a layer of depth to what could have been an easily forgettable villain.
The film could have easily been a cheap cash grab with an old franchise, fortunately with the amount of talent involved, to me, the movie is a hit as I found the adults in my session laughing along to all the in-jokes and subtle winks that are freely thrown out during the film. The Addams Family appear to have a lot of moments more for adults, so the younger audience may be a little bored and distracted. That being said there are a couple of moments that younger kids will love.
The Addams Family is being released this week just in time for school holidays. Although, is it a bit of a shame that it missed the Halloween release in Australia. I found The Addams Family a fun animated film that the whole family will enjoy, as well as fans of the original series and 90’s films.
The Addams Family will be showing in Australian cinemas from this Thursday, December 5.