The Addams Family brings Charles Addams' beloved dark creation back to the big screen, this time via computer-generated animation. It's a format particularly well-suited to the larger-than-life characters. The movie is directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, the makers of Sausage Party – perfect choices to ensure it retains the twisted humor embedded in the franchise's DNA. At the same time, the intention here is also to bring in new, younger viewers. Take this for whatever it's worth, but I (a longtime fan) and my 10-year-old son (whose first exposure to the Addams clan was through this film) both had a good time.
After a short intro showing how Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) ended up in their creepy abode, The Addams Family settles into its basic story. Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) is the sunny host of a home renovation TV program. She's put together an entire town based on her vision. When the ugly old marsh is drained, the fog lifts, giving everyone a crystal clear view of the decrepit Addams mansion up on the hill. Horrified, Margeux plots to drive them out.
In the meantime, Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz) forms an unlikely friendship with Margeux's daughter Parker (Elsie Fisher), Gomez prepares Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard) for a rite-of-passage ceremony, and Cousin It arrives for a visit. In perhaps the movie's weirdest joke, It is voiced by Snoop Dogg, and the filmmakers have recorded him speaking gibberish, which they've sped up and played backwards.
Storywise, The Addams Family is routine, following a plot similar to the one in 1990's Edward Scissorhands. Margeux whips up the townsfolk to hate the “freaks” simply because they're different. The ending brings with it a predictable (but still important for kids) message about showing compassion to those who are not like us. Nothing about the plot is original or unexpected.
The humor is where the film truly excels. Several wonderfully macabre and hilarious bits are scattered throughout. The PG rating hasn't completely forced the material to be toned down. Wednesday repeatedly shoots Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) with a crossbow, the townspeople have personal kinks that are revealed toward the end, and Gomez and Morticia squeal with glee when they hit Lurch with their car. The Addams Family mixes dark humor with good-natured mayhem that can be appreciated by kids and adults alike.
Computer animation is a great fit for the material. As done here, it captures – and slightly exaggerates – the classic visual appeal of these characters and their world. The filmmakers smartly don't overdo it, either. They understand the charm of Charles Addams' work, thereby taking an “if it isn't broke, don't fix it” approach. Just looking at the movie is pleasurable, especially during its most creative moments, like the one where Morticia creates a bridge of spiders.
The Addams Family essentially does what it sets out to, namely provide offbeat fun and introduce the clan to a new generation.
out of four
The Addams Family is rated PG for macabre and suggestive humor, and some action. The running time is 1 hour and 27 minutes.