Directed By Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon
Starring – Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz
The Plot – Get ready to snap your fingers! The first family of Halloween, the Addams Family, is back on the big screen in the first animated comedy about the kookiest family on the block. Funny, outlandish, and completely iconic, the Addams Family redefines what it means to be a good neighbor.
Rated PG for macabre and suggestive humor, and some action
– Signature animation. While the animated vibes instilled in the movie are anything but natural to fans of the live action duo of 90’s movies, they are in fact an accurate rendering of the source material illustrated from Charles Addams in 1938. The character depictions are perfect right down to the very tee, but it’s the backdrops and surprisingly vibrant streak of color filling the movie that frequently caught my attention, and gave MGM a launching pad for competing with the more established animated companies. The Addams mansion is inspired with 3D stature-popping detail, and the colorful contrast between the airy atmosphere that surrounds them offers a stark realization for the differing lifestyle choices that places many at odds with them. It’s meaning in color that goes a long way with placing weight in the proper ideology of the story, and cements an artistic merit early on that flows with big budget texture.
– Endearing vocal performances. The work from the big name cast here is so exceptional, and so full of measured articulation that the only regret they contain is the desire to see this crew realize their characters in a live action capacity. This starts with Isaac, who fills the big shoes of Raul Julia from the 90’s, bringing along Julia’s signature charisma to play hand-in-hand with Oscar’s eccentric vocal capacities. Likewise, Theron and Moretz are equally entrancing, getting lost in their respective roles in ways that challenges the personalities of their characters storied histories. For Moretz, it means once more to fight back against a world that is trying to change her. It brings a full-fleshed realism to the pride and bravery of her fight, bringing with it a strong bond of womanhood between the duo that solidifies their family chemistry with one another, and establishes the importance of women in a male-focused plot in the foreground.
– Positive message. Every animated film has one today, and while the one prominent in this newest installment is anything but original for the franchise (See Addams Family Values), it does bring with it hard-hitting emphasis that every youth will easily take with them. As elaborated above, the film’s central conflict embraces the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote; “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to change you”. This is seen especially through the eyes mostly of Wednesday Addams, but also in every other member of this family, who are seen as the outcasts in the peaceful community. Through a war of devastation, as well as an abundance of experience and knowledge from the other side, the people learn that differences are inconsequential when we’re all people fighting to preserve our family values. It garners a gentle side to positivity not often seen from a tonal capacity so dark and ominous, and teaches us to embrace the things that make everyone unique. Certainly a stance more important now than perhaps ever before.
– Familiar personality. If there’s one thing that keeps this consistent with being an Addams Family movie, it’s the dark and twisted humor that was prominent in past films and TV shows that still feels effective even within PG limitations. It’s the kind of double take humor that lands stronger after it has had time to resonate for a few seconds, and next to the elaboracy of physical humor through a barrage of explosions for the kiddies, gives us the adults something to laugh about that doesn’t translate as smoothly to youthful perception. Animated films that cater to both sides of the aged audience is an exception to the rule in modern day cinema, but “The Addams Family” embraces audiences for a new generation, all the while paying respects to the generations of fans who watch it to embrace its cleverness with several instances of play on words. For my money, the laughs landed around 60% of the time, and satisfied that yearning for Addams Family familiarity that was unfortunately silenced in other aspects of the film.
– Storytelling inconsistencies. There are a few scenes that hint that maybe a few scenes were left on the cutting room floor. I choose to believe this because otherwise the consistency of continuity in the film is among the worst that I have seen in 2019, for the way it the next scene alienates what was previously established. There are many examples, but I point one specifically that I perceive as only there to establish the conventional third act distancing that has become a tiresome trope in film. In one scene, Wednesday is telling a new friend how free her style of living is, making the friend want to explore her silenced dark side. In the next scene, Wednesday is shown wearing pink when she returns back home. What happened? What conjured up this desire for her change? There’s never a scene to point to where this mental transformation takes form, and it stands as one of the many examples where aspects within the story weren’t fully fleshed out to make them perceptive to the audience.
– Unambitious runtime. This is barely an 80 minute film, and while that rapid runtime sounds nice to anyone who hates heavy pacing, the film is simply too light to render all of its subplots as meaningful to the justification of the project. This more than anything gives the film a made-for-TV vibe that it couldn’t escape, and as particularly seen during the opening scenes of the movie, the unknown backstory of Gomez and Morticia’s union before the kids, house, and everything else we’ve come to love, is only hinted at, and never fully realized. It’s a missed opportunity to angle us into something fresh for the saga, and instead speeds us through to the plot set-up that we were expecting much later on. In my opinion, they could’ve easily taken a few extra scenes to embrace their complete histories, and give new fans of these characters an intriguing first meeting that makes them want more.
– Predictably bland. There is nothing here that is surprising or deviating away from what was expected from this weak, overdone conflict, and the progression of supporting characters, who are only there to further cement this point. In fact, the dialogue is so meandering and lacking all forms of subtlety that the writers don’t realize that they give away long before the moment of clarity comes. Without spoiling anything, I will say that an obvious set-up of fifty houses being built within this peaceful community, all the while this Addams Family reunion is taking place, more than established an obvious direction that takes its time before coming to its full realization. There was never a single moment in this film where I was even remotely surprised or thrown off from the path that I previously outlined, and that, in addition the the familiar conflict, is something that proves that MGM played a bit too safe in bringing these timeless characters to a modern day rendering.
– Speaking of modern day, the forceful inclusion of hip lingo and gadgetry for the characters is something that totally took away from the dark and timeless preservation of the previous films. Look at something like the 1992 “The Addams Family”, and you see a film with only a few spare instances of 90’s familiarity. Here, there’s lines like “This party is about to get lit” that I couldn’t help but cringe at, treating the titular protagonists as unwelcome guests in their own movie. Likewise, the combination of cellular phones, apps, and social media addiction served as such an unnecessary delve into the society living and breathing outside of the Addams mansion gate, that it felt like wasted time every time we are asked to stray away from it. There’s nothing worse in a current day reboot than when the year itself becomes a character within the film, and this unshakeable presence kept me from ever fully embracing this as an Addams Family movie.
– Horrible soundtrack. As yet another gimmick into that modern day suffocation, the film’s musical soundtrack is one that felt so spoon-fed and condemning to the integrity of the ominous characters. There’s rap music, pop music, and even musical notes from other legendary television series. Yes, the 92′ film featured MC Hammer rapping on the soundtrack, but the difference is that track wasn’t featured in the actual movie. Here, these songs halt the progress of the already minimal narrative to give us what can only be described as MC Lurch spinning his favorites, and it leads to my biggest problem with kids films in the modern age; the shameless selling of downloads. It’s littered throughout this film, and constantly steps on the Addams Family theme and all of its slight deviations from composer Jeff Danna, who was doing a fine job of conjuring the proper Addams atmosphere seamlessly before the radio station within the movie takes over.
– Generic storytelling. Everything here is underwhelming in keeping the attention of its audience. From the conventionally underwritten antagonist, to the complete lack of urgency associated with such a burden, to the film’s resolution, which feels simple if the characters could’ve had a five minute conversation to smooth over their fears. No imagination at all was put into making something daring and unconventional, giving us a bland third act whose cold taste are a sum of its ingredients. Perhaps the single biggest problem facing this movie is there’s nothing memorable about a single aspect within it. This proves that the production settled for mediocrity instead of taking the time necessary to make this anything but doomed from the start.
My Grade: 4/10 or D-