VOD film review: The Addams Family (2019)
James R | On 02, Jun 2020
Director: Conrad Vernon, Greg Tiernan
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Allison Janney
They’re creepy and they’re kooky. Mysterious and spooky. Unless, that is, you’re watching the 2019 animation The Addams Family, in which the eponymous group are kooky, yes, but not so mysterious and far from creepy, let alone spooky.
The decision to reboot the popular franchise as a modern animation is an understandable one, given the clan’s multimedia past, but with the two live-action films of the 1990s now seminal incarnations of the group, the lack of tangible, live-action ghoulishness means the result lacks atmosphere by comparison. It doesn’t help that the plot, too, skews more generic than weird, entering territory closer to Despicable Me than The Boxtrolls or Paranorman.
We catch up with Gomez (Oscar Isaac), Morticia (Charlize Theron), Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz), Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard), Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) and Lurch (Conrad Vernon) as they prepare for a visit from their distant Addams relatives. But also wandering onto their turf is Margaux (Allison Janney), a lifestyle guru who fronts a home makeover TV show – and wants to transform the Addams’ hilltop mansion into something that conforms to the wholesome, colourful town on its doorstep. A town where Margaux is hoping to sell 40 houses.
It’s not a terrible starting point, but the film never manages to make the juxtaposition of the Addams’ macabre existence and the town’s strip-mall lifestyle anything truly memorable; there are nice ideas within the house itself, and the character designs are pleasingly faithful, but things are played for bright laughs rather than dark chuckles, which leaves the over-arching message about being yourself and respecting other people’s differences a little too cookie-cutter for a film in which a major sidekick is a walking severed hand.
While there’s a mild irony to the fact that this story about non-conforming fails to live up to its own motto, it’s mostly a disappointment to see a talented voice cast – including Theron’s graveyard-deadpan Morticia, Isaac’s wonderfully excitable Gomez and Moretz and Wolfhard’s note-perfect blend of naivety and nastiness – go to waste. All together ooky.