The Addams Family is the latest iconic intellectual property to get a remake/reboot treatment via CG animation. Most recently we’ve seen Disney attempt this with The Lion King, and next year we’ll see the trend continue with Scoob!, Scooby-Doo’s latest theatrical adventure.
As great as it is for these characters and stories to be introduced to new generations and audiences though, sometimes the qualities that made them so magical and memorable in the first place gets lost in translation. This version of The Addams Family is a prime example.
The film acts an origin story for each of the macabre members of the family, starting off with Gomez and Morticia (voiced by Oscar Isaac and Academy Award Winner Charlize Theron, respectively). When we first meet them, they’re newlyweds who, having been chased out of their previous village for being “monsters”, are seeking a new place to call home. Cut to New Jersey, in what is easily the funniest part of the film, where the two of them relocate because it’s a dark and gloomy place where, “no one would be caught dead in.” They are joined by Gomez’s “hand-some” companion, Thing, and it is there that they also meet Lurch, who has just escaped a mental institution. The Addams immediately make him their butler.
Thirteen years pass and Gomez and Morticia are now parents to Wednesday and Pugsley (voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz and Finn Wolfhard). At first, all seems fine but then we learn that raising the kids has become a bit harder lately. Wednesday has grown bored and is extremely curious of what lies beyond the Addams Family Mansion. Pugsley is reluctantly preparing for his “mazurka,” a traditional Addams Family event which marks his rite of passage as an adult. And in addition to dealing with each child’s own problems, they also have to deal with a mischievous TV personality named Margaux Needler (voiced by Academy Award Winner Allison Janney) that wants to run them out of town to expand her real estate development.
Now, if you think there’s a lot going on here, you’re right. There is, and in just under an hour and a half, it all feels very rushed. The film does a fine job at setting up all the characters, but one of it’s main problems is that it just doesn’t know what to do with them all once they’re introduced. Numerous A-Listers lend their voices to the film such as Bette Midler, Martin Short, Elsie Fisher, and Tituss Burgess, but they’re all under-utilized. Even fan favorite characters like Uncle Fester and Cousin Itt (voiced by Nick Kroll and Snoop Dogg) take a backseat. In fact, they’re really just glorified cameos. Fester is mostly just used for several recurring gags, and Cousin Itt’s entire presence is pointless. It’s clear that having Snoop Dogg “voice” him was a marketing ploy because 1. He gets top billing even though his character only appears in the film for a total of 5 minutes, and 2. You can’t even tell it’s Snoop because the pitch of his voice is distorted beyond recognition. The only time that Snoop Dogg is actually in this movie is when a terribly censored version of “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” plays upon Itt’s arrival to the Addams Family Mansion.
I mean, as a whole this film feels like it was made more for the adults that accompany their children to see this film than the children it’s marketed too. The writers made social media and reality television so integral to the plot that it will go right over the average child’s head.
I wanted to like this film. I loved the original cartoon, and the Sonnenfield films are so much fun. This film has it’s feet grounded in both, and was definitely made in hopes of keeping the franchise alive. It’s got a lot of great ideas it tries to explore too – especially about family – but with the exception of the animation and some situational humor, there is just nothing noteworthy here.
Kids will eat this film up, like every other animated film, but other than that the only people that I think could actually love this film are the members of The Addams Family themselves, and not because it’s about them, but rather because it’s just so dull.