Comedy Oddities: The Addams Family (2019)

the adams family 2019The nineties live action take on Charles Addams’ beloved weirdo family was perfectly cast, beautifully shot, and though it relied on its central concept that these were incredibly strange macabre individuals living in modern day America a little too often, and the pacing was a little uneven, it was largely a fantastic adaptation. And having watched this 2019 take it makes me admire that film all the more, this gets a few things right but a hell of a lot of things wrong and the 1991 film looks like a classic in comparison.

After being hounded out of town by an angry mob on their wedding day Morticia (Charlize Theron) and Gomez (Oscar Isaac) end up in New Jersey, but not the one you might have seen anywhere else in American cinema as they live in an abandoned insane asylum on top of a mountain. Thirteen years on and they’re still present, but much to Morticia’s horror the marshes surrounding the house have been drained by make over reality tv host Margaux Needlerm (Allison Janney) who has bought the area and built homes on it, intending to sell it on for a massive profit.

This coincides with Pugsley taking his Mazurka, a ceremony which will prove he’s now a man, and the entire extended Addams family are planning on visiting to help him celebrate it. Pugsley’s worried he might fail, mainly as he’s done very little practicing, and Margaux is horrified when she meets the family believing they’ll screw up her plan, and thanks to the evils of social media is quickly able to turn the whole town against them.

Both the characterisation of Gomez and Morticia and the performances by Isaac and Theron are strong, while the film captures the horniness they have for each other even though this is a very child friendly affair. There’s also the occasional amusing pun or visual gag, and when the film leans in to being weird, like when instead of dissecting a frog Wednesday brings it back to life Frankenstein style, it’s quite amusing. There’s not enough of this aspect though, and everything else is pretty weak, and you’d struggle to recognise the characters if you could only hear and not see them.

Wednesday for instance is a sulky teen, moaning about how bored she is, and Chloë Grace Moretz delivers all of her dialogue in a sardonic mocking manner which is irritating and then some. Even worse is Nick Kroll as Fester, in this take on the story he’s a cartoonish over the top idiot who comes across like an overly excited puppy in such a manner that he may well be the most grating character ever created. The plotting doesn’t make a huge amount of sense either, Wednesday has been kept away from the rest of the world her entire life but then Gomez instantly agrees to let her attend the local school, and it’s extremely predictable too, I doubt anyone didn’t predict exactly how the movie would pan out after the first ten minutes sets pretty much everything up.

The animation style is bland and lacks anything close to invention, the patronising message concerning the importance of individuality is hammered home over and over again, and just when you might think this couldn’t get any worse Lurch sings a pitch perfect rendition of REM’s Everybody Hurts. A sequel is due to be released soon, but if it’s more of the same of this tepid nonsense then it’ll be something you’ll definitely want to avoid.

★1/2

Alex Finch.

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