Every 20 to 30 years we have a new wave of nostalgia. While it's been around for year, it wasn't until the 90s where this became set in stone. Baby Boomers who had young kids turned to big Hollywood remakes of their favourite classic shows for entertainment, from ‘The Flintstones’ to ‘The Brady Bunch’ even comic strips like ‘Dennis the Menace’ and ‘Richie Rich’ were ripe for the taking to make a quick buck. All were pretty much critically panned and did modestly at the box office, but only one is often considered the best of the bunch - and that is ‘The Addams Family’ and its theatrical sequel ‘Addams Family Values’.
Here in 2019, we are in our own 30-year rule for the late 80s and early 90s; how often do you see a picture of a modern film line-up and the caption, "What year is it?" However, these films aren’t just made for the nostalgia - they have become our blockbusters, and this isn’t just with Disney. From things like ‘Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle’ and ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ - even ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘It’ - all the media we consume to some callback to our childhoods. This comes into play with the new animated version of ‘The Addams Family’, which of course is capitalising on nostalgia - but whose?
After an angry mob ruins Morticia (Charlize Theron, ‘Long Shot’, ‘Tully’) and Gomez Addams (Oscar Issac, ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’, ‘Ex Machina’), they stumble across an abandoned asylum which they choose to call home and start their family. After living for thirteen years in peace and now with two children, Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz, ‘Greta’, ‘Bad Neighbours 2’) and Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard, ‘It Chapter 2’, ‘The Goldfinch’), their whole life is threatened when a new reality TV makeover show takes over the nearby town and plans on selling the houses on national television. The host of the show will stop at nothing to demolish the Addams’ house as it ruins the look of the town. At the same time, Pugsley is getting ready for his Mazurka, a rite of passage that every Addams must take, which means the entire Addams clan will be in town to see him come of age.
There's no reason for this film to be called ‘The Addams Family’ other than to get those sweet sweet nostalgia bucks. It’s a cheap animated kids film that has skinned these iconic characters and put them onto terribly-rendered CGI blobs.
This movie is yet another bland, boring animated kids film. It isn’t terribly insulting to the Addams legacy because it feels so far removed from it.
What do modern kids know about ‘The Addams Family’? I know for me growing up, I heard the theme song on a lot of Halloween compilation albums, and then probably around 7 or 8 was exposed to the 90s film and then the TV show. But I feel the only tie today’s kids have is to the song, and even then, it’s just the finger-clicking that they really remember. The Addams aren’t characters that hold much emotional resonance for today's youth. The film tries to explain who they are with a long prologue but then brushes over so much; it’s very confusing whether the film wants to appeal to the current generation or just appease 90s kids. The film is clearly pulling from the live-action films, and besides a homage to the original theme song, the movie is clearly trying to mimic those films, ripping plot elements and ascetics.
One would think an animated Addams Family would be a match made in heaven, and while there is some real untapped potential, this was far from hitting the mark. What works best about the humour of the clan is the contrast between "normal" people and their weird and kooky ways. Here, the humans are animated so hideously and over-the-top that the whole point of the Addams is lost, so there's nothing to bounce back from their kookiness. The rest of the comedy is variations on the Addams replacing happy sayings with drab ones - "Pleased to meet you" becomes "Dreadful to meet you," rinse and repeat.
The voice acting is fine, and no one is trying to do anything other than mimic past versions of the characters. The characters themselves have no weight; they just are cut-outs and you are left to fill in the blanks with your knowledge of them.
This movie is yet another bland, boring animated kids film. It isn’t terribly insulting to the Addams legacy because it feels so far removed from it. Its plot is just a mess, and has very forced messages of being yourself that come out of left field in the film's climax - and of course, we can’t just have the Addams theme song, we have to have the urban gangster version of it by adding Snoop Dogg. Don’t waste your time; just show your kids the 90s films.