You know the song. Come on, you know you want to sing it out loud and click those fingers. Everybody: “They’re creepy and they’re kooky…” Strangely, just typing those words makes us want to sing along and if we are being brutally honest, it’s been far too long since our favourite gothic family have graced the screen in any form for almost over two decades, which in itself is barmy. And, after many calls for a live-action reboot from fans, we have met somewhere in the middle: a reboot/rework but of the animated variety from the creators of, erm, Sausage Party. Hardly the kind of “kid-friendly” resume you’d expect, but at least we have them back.
Taking its reworking cue from recent rejigs such as the Benedict Cumberbatch-voiced The Grinch (loosely), The Addams Family brings a modern slant to proceedings, placing the family in their distinctive scary mansion atop a grey, desolate mountain top but adjacent to a palatial new “super” town build courtesy of TV celeb Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) and her ridiculously successful makeover show. Still, the family retain many of their usual facets: Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz) is as droll and emotionless as ever; brother Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard) loves blowing stuff up before his Babushka ceremony; while Morticia (Charlize Theron) and Gomez (Oscar Isaac) revel in dark arts and sultry romance. Oh and Snoop Dogg plays Cousin IT.
Given its modern surroundings, the film makes a point of embracing the culture of 21st century America with jabs as excess, make-overs, popularity through swipes and school standings, working-class and middle-class society and, of course, immigration. Love thy neighbour as they say and while those surrounding the US are feeling less than welcome right now, the film tells us that no matter the person we should embrace them and love them no matter what. Indeed, that was true when Charles Addams brought his family to life and some seven decades later, similar discussions haven’t gone away.
But despite its best intentions, the film falls somewhat flat when it should be taking flight: it’s through no fault of much of the cast, as Theron, Isaac and Moretz, in particular, revel in their roles but only heighten the disappointment that this isn’t live-action and a bigger canvas for them to explore, as all three would have been perfection (Moretz is maybe too old got Wednesday in such form, but it doesn’t stop it being true). But the animation never allows a true rhythm to form, with the story and images plodding rather than excelling, and for all of co-directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan‘s success with Sausage Party, and their handle of the material, it doesn’t quite translate here.
It’s wonderful to see the Addams’ back in any guise such is their innate originality but while the main cast have a ball and There’s decent laughs to be – as well as an important message from all ages – this, sadly, never comes close to those two joyous films from the early 1990’s, or indeed the original show.
Animation, Comedy | USA, 2019 | PG | 25th October 2019 (UK) | Universal Pitures | Dir.Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon |Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Snoop Dogg, Nick Kroll