This is not the first time Hollywood has attempted to revive Charles Addams’ 1938 comic strip of The Addams Family for the modern generation. They did it before back in the early 90s with varying degrees of success in the live-action feature films of The Addams Family (1991), Addams Family Values (1993) and the direct-to-video Addams Family Reunion (1998).
Fast-forward to 2019, The Addams Family movie has finally made its comeback to the big screen after the franchise been lying dormant for the last two decades. Only this time, it was resurrected into an animated feature with the help of Sausage Party directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon.
The Addams Family traces back all the way to the beginning where Gomez (voiced by Oscar Isaac) first found his true love Morticia (Charlize Theron) and married her before they are being chased out of town by the townsfolk. The two newlyweds ended up settling themselves in an abandoned asylum above the hill and subsequently raised their two children, Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz) and Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard). Over the course of a decade, they live happily in exile with fellow Addams including Uncle Fester (Nick Knoll), Grandmama (Bette Midler) as well as their butler Lurch (Conrad Vernon) and Thing, a disembodied human hand that able to move by itself.
Then along came Margaux Needler (Allison Janney), the blonde-haired host of a homemaker reality TV show who can’t stand the ugly sight of the Addams family’s rundown residence and plots an elaborate scheme to get rid of them.
The CG animation is nothing particularly remarkable but at least the movie does faithfully retain its macabre visuals and even getting the original characters design right, namely the stout-looking Gomez and the stick-thin Morticia. The voice cast is spot-on including Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron’s respectively better-than-expected performances as Gomez and Morticia. The same also goes to the rest ranging from Chloe Grace Moretz’s Wednesday to Nick Kroll’s Uncle Fester as well as Bette Midler’s Grandmama and Allison Janney’s antagonist role of Margaux Needler.
There are few worthwhile moments throughout its breezy 87-minute length, namely the reintroduction of the iconic finger-snapping theme music, the Frankenstein-like scene where Wednesday reviving the dead frogs from the biology lab using electricity and a scene where Lurch playing the piano while crooning a certain popular song from the 90s.
While the movie works better during individual moments, Matt Lieberman’s overall screenplay looks like a mixed bag hastily put together with cookie-cutter moral lessons about social acceptance and differences. It even tries to stay culturally relevant by embracing modernisation and added social media-era undertones into the story. But all this is merely glossed over in favour of a simple-minded resolution, given its toned-down PG (read: family-friendly) rating.
The Addams Family is no doubt a decent time-waster but there’s a nagging feeling that co-directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon could have done better with the movie’s kooky material.