Current Issue #488

Film Review:
The Addams Family

Yet another reboot of Charles Addams’ beloved Addams Family, this gaudily-animated comedy for older kids captures some of the malevolent wit of the original concept and adds several new layers that just about work.

This family just keeps on coming back: created in 1938 for one-panel New Yorker comics, they then appeared in that cultish 1960s TV series, featured in two 1990s live action movies and permeate much popular culture, so it’s only right they should turn up once more in what’s deliberately constructed as a contemporary satire about individuality and (there’s that word again!) inclusivity.

A sort of Addams ‘Origins’ tale, this has the creepy and kooky extended family gathering for the wedding of leering Gomez (voiced by Oscar Isaac) and the ghoulish Morticia (voiced by Charlize Theron), but when the expecting torch-bearing mob turns up, Gomez’s brother Uncle Fester (voiced by Nick Kroll) must save them. The newlyweds settle into a haunted asylum, with former-inmate-turned-butler Lurch (voiced, sort of, by co-director/co-producer Conrad Vernon), and 13 years later they’ve had two kids, the explosives-mad Pugsley (voiced by Finn Wolfhard from Netflix’s Stranger Things) and the almost black-and-white Wednesday (voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz), who’s even more fabulously morbid than her Mom.

Pugsley is preparing for his mazurka with the family sabre, while Wednesday becomes intrigued with the world beyond the fog-shrouded grounds, and a mysterious place called ‘Junior High’. When she befriends local girl Parker (Elsie Fisher from TV’s Castle Rock), Wednesday starts looking scarily colourful while Parker becomes Gothy, much to the distaste of her home-renovation-expert Reality-TV-star alt-right-troll mother Margaux Needler, who’s amusingly voiced by Alison Janney.

There’s a lot going on here, some of it not quite in the spirit of Addams’ original Addamses, and yet there’s plenty to distract you, from the nods to several horror classics (It, The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror), to the guest voicers (even Bette Midler is funny as the randy Grandma), to the scene-stealing Wednesday herself, whose hobbies include crossbows, taxidermy and general lurking.

Purists might perhaps be uneasy with the sometimes overly obvious messaging (note that the nearby town is named Assimilation) all about being yourself and, as this is an American movie, family, but it’s sweet anyway, and like it or not, a sequel is a spookily sure thing.

Duh-duh-duh-duh, click-click, duh-duh-duh-duh, click-click, ad infinitum.

Reviewer Rating

The Addams Family (PG) is in cinemas now

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