In Brief: For adults, a laugh or two but not all that funny, nor all that interesting. Kids will like it.
The history of Charles Addams and his famed family is a lot more interesting than this movie. His comic strip had some decent zingers and was often fairly funny. When you consider he began The Addams Family in 1938, the guy was way ahead of his time.
How far ahead? Near as I can tell, Wednesday Addams is the original goth chick.
It’s too bad neither the 1964 TV show nor the acclaimed but so-so movies to follow in the 1990s were as good. They featured clever sets, and a few equally clever scenes, and admittedly, John Astin and Carolyn Jones were great as Gomez and Morticia and Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston did them very well in the 1990s movies The Addams Family and The Addams Family Values.
However, the stories that surrounded the characters weren’t all that hot and never quite rocked my world. In fact, the best thing to come out of either was Christina Ricci’s absolutely perfect Wednesday.
By the way, there was a third movie that I’ve never seen — or even heard of — called Addams Family Reunion. It came out in 1998 and had Tim Curry playing Gomez and Daryl Hannah giving Morticia a shot.
Now there’s a fourth. The Addams Family is an animated movie that starts with good intentions and the wedding of Morticia and Gomez. Being misunderstood as monsters, they and the rest of the family are chased out of town and the couple settle in an abandoned insane asylum in New Jersey. That leads us back to Addams and his history. He hailed from Westfield, New Jersey.
It is in New Jersey that they meet Lurch and where — later — Wednesday and Pugsley are born.
Move forward a few years and you find a story wrapped around two plot points. Pugsley has to perform an important family ritual — or else — and Wednesday wants a life outside the mansion. That leads her to Assimilation, a town that has sprung up below the family home. Fog kept the family from noticing it and big-haired Margaux Needler, the woman who built the town from noticing them.
That’s part of the Wednsday crisis. And it’s the only clever part of the film. She’s an unhappy caged in her world of dark, drab clothing and her first ever friend, Parker is weary of her mom’s hypocrisy and all those bright colors. Both do a fun rebellion.
Outside of the tiresome family quirks, what is dullest about the movie is how everyone in Assimilation must fall in line with Margaux’s pitch perfect world. If they don’t? Out comes her personality knives. Naturally, Gomez and Morticia do not fit all that perfection so she now becomes their worst nightmare.
But they’re the Addams Family and they love nightmares, don’t they?
Oscar Isaac does the voice of Gomez and Charleze Theron tackles Morticia. They’re very good. So are Chloe Grace Moretz’s Wednesday and Finn Wolfhard who plays Pugsley. Allison Janney is cast as the big haired, TV-star developer and she does it to perfection.
They do the best they can with a really dumb — but typical of most animated movies — plot.
The movie is as unfunny as it sounds and it features a script woven through an awful soundtrack that directors Greg Tiernan (Thomas & Friends stuff going back to 2009) and Conrad Vernon (Sausage Party, Monsters vs. Aliens, Shrek 2) wrap around the quickly worn out Addams Family theme.
The two directors seem to think that a soundtrack needs to be in every scene and sometimes the music is mixed so poorly that it drowns out what might have been funny lines. Key word: might. This isn’t to say there aren’t a few good zingers in the plot. There are. Unfortunately, like the former TV show and the three movies, there just are not that many.
The word animated in animated movies means to bring to life. There isn’t much life to be had in this one and it arrives as dead as many of the movie’s characters.
Directors: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon
Stars: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Elsie Fisher, Finn Wolfhard, Allison Janney, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dog, Bette Midler, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara
Rated PG for mature themes. Kids will like it but adults? Probably not. A funny line or two wrapped in a predictable plot. Give this a 2 on the Friday Flicks with Gary o to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.