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The Addams Family – Movie Review

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The Addams Family – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Pictures

Charles Addams’s comic strip family was almost like a reaction to the rise of suburbia and white-picket fences that were becoming common in the United States in the 1950s. Their rejection of that way of life has continued to resonate as there’s a strangely gleeful charm to their love of the macabre. This new animated film version of the Addams Family succeeds at capturing their personalities and understanding the humour of the original single panel comics. The movie may not be groundbreaking on a storytelling level, but part of the appeal of this adaptation comes from just hanging out with the family and seeing the visual gags the filmmakers come up with.

The members of the Addams Family are well defined from the get-go and a large credit for this goes to character designer Craig Kellman. He faithfully recreates the original cartoon designs, with the animators giving the characters some further touches that allow them to spring to life on screen. Many of the laughs come from how they delight in the grotesque and gothic, whether it’s Morticia’s love for spiders or Wednesday practicing her crossbow on her uncle Fester and younger brother Pugsley. The close family bond between the Addams is nicely portrayed and shows how supportive they are of one another in their deathly pursuits.

There is a bit of social commentary when a sunny neighbourhood is built nearby, not too subtly named “Assimilation.” This is a common theme in the Addams Family franchise as so-called normal people recoil in horror at what they find enjoyable. One isn’t likely to be surprised by the events in the movie, but there is a proven formula to the various incarnations of The Addams Family. Wednesday gets the best scenes in this movie, as she starts to go to public school and befriends a local girl tired of sunshine and the colour pink. Directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan also have fun with showing the various cousins and uncles in the Addams clan.

There are a series of interconnecting plotlines and while simple, they’re oddly fitting for characters who originated in New Yorker cartoons where the jokes were based on drawings and one-liners. The movie does a decent job of jumping between the stories, although Wednesday and Morticia’s arcs are more interesting than Pugsley attempting a rite of passage. The voice cast is well chosen, with Chloe Grace Moretz standing out as Wednesday and knowing the right deadpan note to play the girl with noose pigtails. Many people understandably hold the casts of the 1960s television series and Barry Sonnenfeld’s film adaptations in high regard, but the new actors more than prove their worth.

The Addams Family is able to faithfully adapt the source material and have fun with Charles Addams’s immortal characters. There are multiple points that induce smiles, whether it’s the imagery or their frequent moments of excitement for the dark and macabre. Vernon and Kiernan understand what has allowed the Addams Family to remain popular for generations, while throwing in a few modern spins as well. Part of the reason the Addams Family has stood the test of time is they’re curiously appealing to those who revel in gothic scenery in addition to anyone who wouldn’t go anywhere near a graveyard. There is an inviting quality surrounding Gomez, Morticia, Lurch and the rest of the family and this movie captures that.

Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison