“If human beings had genuine courage, they’d wear their costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween.” – Douglas Coupland
Time to once more put your middle finger and thumb together and press them into each other twice. The Addams Family has returned, this go-round in computer-animated form with designs hewing closer to the original comic illustrations. While the movie overall isn’t the best movie or show made from the material, it certainly rates as better than some of the lesser efforts.
Gomez (Osacr Isaac) and Morticia Addams (Charlize Theron) have just wed, but a crazed mob is after them. Fleeing to New Jersey (the birthplace of Charles Addams himself, specifically the town Westfield), they settle into an abandoned haunted asylum and make it their home. Thirteen years later, they’re still there along with daughter Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz), son Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard), Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll), butler Lurch (Conrad Vernon, also one of the film’s directors), and Thing.
But the town below has since come to life. Margaux Needler (Allison Janney), the star of a popular home renovations TV program, has taken it upon herself to spruce everything up. Where the Addamses are concerned, she wants them to comply with her standards, or else.
Aimed at a considerably younger audience than any of the live action offerings (though perhaps on par with the past animated shows), Addams Family 2019 probably plays best to that crowd. Some of the messaging is a bit too on the nose for the adults watching, but children unfamiliar with, say, the word “Assimilation” (what the town is called) may not notice. Then again, there’s even a catchy conformity song in the vein of “Everything is Awesome,” so perhaps some will find a need for greater subtlety.
The story foci also skew towards kids. Gomez and Morticia’s romancing is downplayed a little (or rather, mainly gotten out of the way during the opening) so that their attentions here are towards their children. Pugsley, a character that felt neglected in the live action films, gets a key subplot about preparing for his Mazurka (the Addams version of a bar mitzvah). Meanwhile, Wednesday befriends Margaux’s daughter (Elsie Fisher) and each begins to rub off a little on the other. Both go more or less as expected, though that the message in the end is not so much “everyone is different” as it is “everyone has skeletons in the closet” is a tad refreshing.
However, older viewers can still appreciate the gothic aesthetics and solid work from the voice cast. Some are so well-matched that one would’ve thought this movie were a live action one. There’s also a slew of Easter eggs and nods that aren’t incredibly intrusive or distracting. Moreoever, there are completely new additions to the Addams menagerie like Ichabod the living tree and Wednesday’s pet octopus Socrates (although in the past Pugsley had one named Aristotle) that fit right in.
Creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky, and altogether ooky, The Addams Family may well do for the children of today what previous incarnations did for kids in those eras. It also stands a good chance of becoming a seasonal favorite like the Hotel Transylvanias some years down the line. This is one property that won’t be heading to the grave any time soon.