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The Addams Family (A Movie Review)

The Addams Family


Featuring the voices of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, Allison Janney, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Tituss Burgess, Jenifer Lewis, Elsie Fisher, Conrad Vernon, Aimee Garcia, Scott Underwood, Mikey Madison, Chelsea Frei, Pom Klementieff, Deven Green, Maggie Wheeler and Harland Williams.

Screenplay by Matt Liberman and Pamela Pettler.

Directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon.

Distributed by United Artists. 87 minutes. Rated PG.

Usually, a delayed review embargo tends to signal a film where they want as little pre-release buzz as possible. At least that’s been my experience so far. When my sister and I showed up for The Addams Family screening, two days before the opening, I was dismayed to hear that the embargo was running up until the last possible Thursday afternoon before release minute. So, I lowered my expectations to the very lowest they could be, picked up the free stickers, and walked into the theater.

I had fun. So did my sister. The audience was laughing (sometimes howling) in all the right parts – maybe it’s a Philly audience thing? – but I really enjoyed the movie and it seems that everyone around me enjoyed it too.

The Addams Family has been part of American pop-culture since their original debut cartoon sketches (created by Charles Addams) in The New Yorker way back in the 1930’s. They have since made their way across most media platforms – television, film, theater. The quirky-yet-loveable goth family, known for their intense passion for one another and their celebration of the macabre, are recognized by most Americans. To me, 2019’s The Addams Family celebrates the characters and introduces them to a new, younger audience.

It’s not a great film. Your life won’t feel changed in any way by having seen it. There were a few off-timed gags that dissolved without much punch. While Lurch (voiced by Conrad Vernon) stole every scene vocally and visually, the film’s depiction of how he came to be with the family was off-putting at a minimum. The story feels unoriginal with more of a feel of a mashed-up Hotel Transylvania and Despicable Me (both far more original films). But it was certainly entertaining, at least most of the time.

In the end, The Addams Family has always been a celebration of its characters. To me, this is where the new film came through. The cast list was fantastic with some of the best voices in the business. The animation felt fresh while staying true to the originally sketched characters.

The film opens with the wedding of Morticia (voiced by Charlize Theron) and Gomez (voiced by Oscar Isaac). The ceremony ends with the entire extended Addams clan fleeing the countryside after being run out by torch-bearing locals. Morticia and Gomez (chauffeured by Thing, of course) find an isolated hilltop home of their dreams and start their new life.

Theron, in my opinion, really channeled the Morticia character well. She was very well cast in the role. While the mom/teen struggle story was nothing new, the voice work was fun and there were some creative moments, like when her usually super pale face flushes with color and immediately bats come to assist her return to pallor. Or when, gulp, she creates a super creepy bridge of small spiders to cross the household bottomless pit.

Isaac’s Gomez is less memorable, but his interactions with his brother Fester (uncannily voiced by Nick Kroll) were fun.

Wednesday, voiced by Chloe Grace Moretz, was perfectly melancholy. She felt like the ideal choice for the rebooted iconic role. The 2019 Wednesday pokes fun at junior high angst with a strength and sense of self that felt true to her character.

Pugsley, voiced by Finn Wolfhard, is the focus of the film’s family stress in a fun coming of age storyline that mirrors the anxiety felt by every 13-year-old boy preparing for his Bar Mitzvah. He is to be the center of his extended family’s attention as he demonstrates his ability to physically defend his family through a complicated sword show that was expertly performed by his father in his youth. But it is a new world, and Pugsley has his own strengths to celebrate that break from the Addams tradition.

Allison Janney plays super-annoying reality TV home improvement guru/villain Margaux Needler. Bette Midler voices Grandmama and Snoop Dogg is stellar in his brief, but memorable portrayal of Cousin It. The car… and his personal soundtrack theme song (“Drop It Like It’s Hot”)… fantastic.

The soundtrack overall was terrific. I will definitely be downloading! While you don’t get the full “Addams Family Theme” until the very end of the film, the ENTIRE audience was snapping along.

In my humble opinion, 2019’s The Addams Family is a fun, spooky October pick to take the family to this Halloween season. Unfortunately, with the dismal review numbers that I have been seeing, I suspect you’re going to have to take them quickly, before it is gone.

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2019 All rights reserved. Posted: October 11, 2019.

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