After an angry mob runs them out of town in the middle of their wedding ceremony, Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia Addams (Charlize Theron) move to a new home – a haunted asylum in New Jersey. There they have two children, Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard), and live out their strange, gloomy lives until a town is constructed at the bottom of the hill where their house is. Reality TV show host Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) is not happy with the Addams’ residence sticking out like a sore thumb from her perfect neighbourhood so she proposes helping them assimilate. Meanwhile, Wednesday makes a friend and starts school while Pugsley fears he won’t be able to carry out a long-held family tradition.
Fans of ‘The Addams Family’ movies of the 90s (excluding the direct-to-video 1998 film ‘Addams Family Reunion, which was just poor) will find themselves pleasantly surprised by this new adaptation. It seems that there’s something timeless about Gothicism, most especially when it’s infused with pun-filled humour.
The animated feature packs an impressive cast which includes ‘Big Mouth’ creator and star Nick Kroll (anyone who’s seen the series will definitely recognise Coach Steve in Uncle Fester). While Chloë Grace Moretz certainly pulls off the dry, cynical tonality of Wednesday, she’s not nearly as evil as the Christina Ricci iteration, no doubt because this film is more firmly aimed at young viewers than the nonchalant PG-13 rated ‘Addams Family’ of 1991 and 1993’s ‘Addams Family Values.’
The jokes of ‘The Addams Family’ 2019 just keep coming, most especially in the first two acts. Wordplay on the clan’s selection of “whines” and how children “blow up” so fast have you laughing in spite of yourself. The town constructed around their house is aptly named Assimilation, and there are several details that one can’t help but chuckle at such as Wednesday’s hair being plaited into two nooses and Thing, a disembodied hand who’s also a member of the family, getting caught looking up feet on his laptop. There are references to ‘It’ and other horror films such as ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’. Thus you have to appreciate the amount of work Matt Lieberman (whose only other major credit to date is Kurt Russell starrer ‘The Christmas Chronicles’, though ‘Playing with Fire’, starring John Cena, hits cinemas later this year) has put into the screenplay.
The caricature-like animation is charming and message about being yourself and putting family first timeless. The humour is neglected in act three and the ending feels rushed but ‘The Addams Family’ remains one of the best animated movies of 2019 so far.