The Addams Family - Animated Film Resurrects Everyone's Favorite Morbid Family... With Mixed Results

The Addams Family is directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tieman. The film features the voices of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, and Allison Janney.

The Addams Family, long persecuted for their eccentric ways in the Old Country, comes to call a former asylum in New Jersey their new home. Husband and wife Gomez and Morticia have two children, Wednesday and Pugsley, but their struggles with acceptance are far from over. As a greedy real estate developer takes notice of their distressed-looking home, she sets her sights on eliminating the eyesore. Meanwhile, Gomez tries to mentor Pugsley for a forthcoming coming-of-age ceremony for which the extended family of Addamses will be visiting, and Wednesday goes to public school, forming an unexpected friendship with a classmate. Will the family be able to deal with all the obstacles successfully?

The Addams Family is a property with an extensive history, starting with the original comic strips by Charles Addams in the late 1930s, but it’s probably best known for the 1960s television series starring John Astin and Carolyn Jones, and the 1990s (live action) feature films which starred the likes of Raul Julia and Anjelica Houston. There have been many more incarnations of these characters, and being a fan of the 60s TV series, I was surprised to hear the franchise was getting an animated reboot. The new film has a great animation style which brings to mind the original Charles Addams comic strips, though the tone is a bit too light-hearted at times, and the movie bites off more than it can chew.

The film does succeed in its overall look. Brining the look of the old Charles Addams comics to life in 3D isn’t an easy task, but the crew here manages to pull it off. The voice cast is quite solid as well, including Oscar Isaac is Gomez and Chloe Grace Moretz as Wednesday. Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester probably fares best, doing his finest Jackie Coogan impersonation throughout the movie. The writers clearly had a basic understanding of the source material, and the character’s personalities at least feel somewhat accurate to older incarnations of the Addamses.

Sadly, the end result doesn’t come together quite as well as one would hope. The biggest issue is, despite the movie’s surprisingly short running time (it isn’t even quite an hour and a half long), it tries to cram way too much in the way of story elements in. We’ve got Wednesday attending public school for the first time and befriending a girl not happy with the way things go in her life. We’ve got Pugsley preparing for his coming-of-age ceremony, and we’ve got a greedy home developer with a reality show who wants to do away with the Addamses and their not-so-inviting household. So right from the get go, we’ve got three separate stories, which the movie simply isn’t able to juggle that well. While I appreciated the macabre personalities of the characters, it never quite comes close to the simplicity and more morbid humor of the 60s TV series. The TV show stuck to Gomez and Morticia as its main characters, with everyone else (and a few guest characters) acting in a supporting capacity. This incarnation of The Addams Family tries to throw in everything but the kitchen sink, but not much sticks. It doesn't help that many major plot points throughout the movie are resolved abruptly and with a mere few words, in what feels like lazy and rush writing.

It’s clear the filmmakers were inspired by the runaway success of recent animated films, including the Hotel Transylvania franchise, but the happy-go-lucky and light-heated approach doesn’t quite work for these characters. If the writers were looking to recreate Hotel Transylvania, why not adapt The Addams Family’s biggest TV competitor of the 60s, The Munsters? As that show’s characters actually WERE monsters (and not merely eccentric) it probably would’ve been the better choice for a franchise to adapt here.

I liked this take on The Addams Family, but I wanted to love it. As is, it bites off more than it can chew, and doesn’t come close to the sharp humor of its 1960s live-action television predecessor. If you’ve got kids, it’ll make for a decent weekend rental when the home release comes out.

Rating: Two-and-a-half stars out of four.

DISCLAIMER: Images are the property of their respective holders, including the estate of Charles Addams, MGM, Nitrogen, Bron, Cinesite, Jackal Group, Universal, and United Artists. For promotional purposes only. All rights reserved.

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