The Addams Family
With well-established source material and a pedigreed duo of directors, The Addams Family should have been an easy win. Somehow, it never comes together into a coherent family film.
Directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon are the pair behind the hilarious and astonishingly socially progressive Sausage Party. They might not seem like a natural choice to take the reins of a movie for kids, but their collective experience with both Thomas the Tank Engine and the Shrek sequels is enough to alleviate at least a dose of that skepticism.
The Addams Family first begins with the wedding between Morticia and Gomez (voiced by Charlize Theron and Oscar Isaac). Just as they finish their vows (and inexplicably drink out of coconuts), an angry mob of villagers comes at them with torches and pitchforks to drive they far away. They decide to relocate to New Jersey (though this is never mentioned again) and into an abandoned mental asylum, which is the classic Addams mansion we have always known.
Fast forward thirteen years to approximately the present day, and the family of four has a lot going on. Lurch (co-director Vernon) plays the organ. Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) yearns for excitement. Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard) is getting ready for his Mazurka (the Addams equivalent of a bar mitzvah, but with swords). And Thing now wears a smartwatch.
One of the biggest shortcomings of The Addams Family is the fact that these plot points are just the beginning of the story development. When a manufactured town appears in the valley below the Addams’ home, they must deal with the people outside their gate for the first time in years. After expressly telling Wednesday that she cannot leave to explore, the whole family goes into town to meet the neighbors, and later she enrolls in school. Also, this town appears to be filled with people, but city planner and Reality television star Margeaux (Allison Janney) needs to sell fifty houses before her big season-ending special.
Add some messages about bullying, privacy, surveillance, teenage rebellion, individuality, assimilation, and family traditions all in a short 87 minutes, and you can see how the movie feels incredibly disjointed and incoherent. There’s barely a nod to character development or relationships. Instead, we’re dragged from one unconnected scene to the next.
In addition to all of this, the animation is lackluster and flat. The visuals have few textures and little depth, even with the grandiose Addams home and the bubblegum town below. Also, I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing Lurch sing “Everybody Hurts.” Seriously.
The Addams Family could have gone in many directions, but unable to focus on one path, it fails to go in any direction at all.