Family First: Our Review of ‘The Addams Family’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - October 11, 2019
Family First: Our Review of ‘The Addams Family’

“They’re creepy and they’re kooky. Mysterious and spooky. They’re all together ooky. The Addams family.”

Since hitting the television airwaves in 1964, with a ridiculously catchy theme song, The Addams Family has captured the hearts of viewers around the world. Despite the original appearing in comic strip form in the 1930s, the endearing legacy of the show is undeniable. The Addams Family have appeared in a variety of shows, several animated series, video games and three live-action films.

Now a whole new generation gets to discover the ghoulish clan in Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon’s animated film The Addams Family. Keeping with the spirit of the show, the film follows the macabre loving family as they learn to co-exists with the outside world. Or more accurately, as the outside world learns to live in harmony with them. Years after being chased out of their homeland, Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and his wife Morticia (Charlize Theron) are now living a happily with their children, Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard), in the deliciously hideous place that is New Jersey.

Isolated in their lavish hilltop asylum-turned-home, the family spends their days indulging in devilishly fun activities that often involve everything from axes to mini-grenades. However, their peaceful existence is soon disrupted when Wednesday’s longing for change coincides with the discovery of a newly built town below.

Built by famed home and renovation TV host Margaux Needler (Allison Janney), the neighbourhood, aptly called Assimilate, is the epitome of suburban conformity. The only thing ruining its pleasant aesthetics is the Addams’ ghastly home. Determined to remove the eyesore at any cost, Margaux sets a plan in motion to rid the town of the Addams family once and for all.

A safe entry point for into the macabre, the Addams family has always been a symbol for acceptance and harmony, and that remains true here. They may take joy in the dark aspects of life, but deep down they share the same values and love for family as everyone else in Assimilate. By incorporating elements of the intolerance plaguing society today, specifically online fear mongering, the film offers a kid friendly look at how easily lies are treated as facts nowadays.

Though the “it’s okay to be different” theme is bluntly beaten over one’s head, it is a film geared to kids after all, there is plenty of fun to be had for all ages. The film is filled with enough pop culture references and subtle risqué jokes, take Uncle Fester’s (Nick Kroll) off-handed remarks about being banned from various states for sneaking into homes, to satisfy adults. Youngsters will have a blast with the slapstick humour and gags that harken back to the Bugs Bunny era.

Tiernan and Vernon never delve deeply into the family’s dynamics, especially in relation with to the extended members that appear. As a result, the coming-of-age tension between Morticia and the increasingly rebellious Wednesday does not land quite as well as one would hope. Younger audiences will not mind though. There is enough humour in this cute comedy to have even the most jaded individual snapping their fingers in harmony with The Addams Family.

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Courtney is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic and the founder of Cinema Axis. He can frequently be heard discussing film as co-host of Frameline on Radio Regent. Courtney has contributed to several publications including Leornard Maltin, That Shelf, Black Girl Nerds, and Comix Asylum Magazine. He also celebrates diversity in cinema as co-hosts of the Changing Reels podcast and is a member of the Online Film Critics Society.
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