By: Trevor Chartrand
The beloved and monstrous Addams Family returns to cinemas this Halloween; animated for the first time ever on the big screen, and directed by the duo who brought adults Sausage Party. This new film focuses on a real estate mogul trying to drive monsters out of town (à la Shrek), Pugsley Addams’ bar mitzvah, Wednesday Addams’ teenage rebellion, Lurch endlessly playing pop songs on a piano, and a never-ending slurry of other superfluous subplots for audiences to be confused and disappointed by.
It’s difficult to determine the worst aspect of this film, because absolutely everything about it feels so wrong. Watching this 2019 rendition of The Addams Family is like seeing a string of bizarre, disjointed comedy sketches that all fail at being funny, for any generation. In fact, arguably, most of the jokes are aimed more for adults than for kids – because they’re so dated. This film exploits pop culture references that are over 20 years old, including scenes from Titanic and of course, yet another eye-rolling parody of the bullet-time sequences in The Matrix.
In addition to being unfunny, the quality of the animation looks poor. With the character designs, apparently the filmmakers’ goal was to mimic the look of the original Addams Family comic strips, which is respectable enough. But with the leaps forward in contemporary animation in recent years, it may not have been the smartest idea to create assets using a design from the 1930s. That is to say, this film already looks like it’s not going to age very well. The style of the film is serviceable at best, barely passing the quality of an animated bargain bin knock-off flick.
Narratively, this is a very convoluted film, with equal weight given to a variety of subplots rather than one over-arching story. There’s no ‘A’ story here, just a lot of non sequiturs and filler. This script (written by The Christmas Chronicles’ Matt Lieberman and Monster House’s Pamela Pettler) is devoid of focus or structure, making it difficult to find any meaning or message while sifting through all the extraneous stuff. Watching the film is essentially like eating a messy burrito that’s inflated with too many toppings, to the point where all the flavours fail to complement each other. At the end of all these messy little stories, the film’s conclusion comes suddenly and fizzles out in the most lackluster of ways.
The only thing worthy of praise from the film is some of the voiceover work, which was perfectly adequate for a movie like this. Charlize Theron and Oscar Isaac are great as Morticia and Gomez Addams. As Wednesday Addams, however, Chloë Grace Moretz is a little too upbeat for such a downtrodden character. The most wasted opportunity though was casting Snoop Dogg as Cousin It, the hairy creature that just makes grunting noises. Snoop could have brought some life to this film with his signature voice and comedic style, but alas, that would mean changing the nature of a very iconic character.
Overall, The Addams Family is a real head-scratcher. I often found myself confused with my jaw agape. How could something this inadequate even get made, let alone released? Now understandably, the film could possibly entertain a younger audience, but if I had children, I don’t think I’d want them watching this one. The Addams Family is insultingly vapid and simple, and it will have audiences rolling their eyes rather than rolling in the aisles. This is an easily forgettable film, and it certainly won’t go down in history as classic children’s entertainment.
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Trevor Chartrand: @OhHaiTrebor