- Katie Bell
The Addams Family - 2019
Updated: Apr 26, 2020
They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're all together ooky, the Addams family... The most important question is, were the 2019 family kooky, spooky or ooky enough? I'm not sure.
This new animated version of The Addams Family has the same familiar characters, voiced by a talented cast. However, the film feels somewhat subdued. I will admit, I never watched either animated series, the live-action television series of the 90s, the direct to video movie of 1998 or the 1960s television series, and nor have I read the original comic strip. So really, I should not be launching comparisons between this animation and other versions; I am by no means an expert. However, comparative to The Addams Family (1991) or Addams Family Values (1993), this film seemed to lack a sort of spark. And what it lacked in spark, it made up for in moral...something that I wasn't really anticipating.
The film starts with some origin stories. Morticia and Gomez Addams are being married, and suddenly their wedding is invaded by locals carrying pitchforks and fire. The Addams, along with Thing, are driven away to a new home: an abandoned "asylum for the criminally insane," from which it appears Lurch has just escaped? Or maybe he is just out for a walk? It is abandoned after all... Either way, they all head up to the scary-looking structure, realise it's abandoned and despite the building's protests, proclaim it their new home. Thirteen years later, they continue to live in solitude with their two children Wednesday and Pugsley. But! Alas and alack! A reality television renovation lady named Margaux, rolls in and builds a town with fifty, pastel-coloured houses nearby. When it's revealed that the Addams' family home is somewhat impeding Margaux's perfect view, it is incredibly disheartening for her. And when she discovers that they aren't coveters of the mainstream, she predictably begins plotting to get rid of them.
Of course, being that their eldest child is entering her early teens, and their youngest is also nearing an Addams' family rite of passage into male adulthood, the film projects the prevailing message to "be your own person". Both children are fighting against the norm. Pugsley, though an Addams through and through, wants out with the old ways of swordfighting with sabres, and in with the use of explosives. Meanwhile, Wednesday is taking issue with the fact that her family are all the same. She ventures into society and realises that similar issues exist there. On at least two separate occasions characters are heard saying, "What's so great about being yourself, when you can be like everyone else?" Wednesday's extravagant rebellion from her family's ways is highlighted through some pink colour and a unicorn beret. This does provide some comedy, particularly with a crash zoom used to emphasise the aforementioned hideous hairclip...but all in all, it's not as effective or entertaining as it could be. In the end, the message to "be yourself" comes through loud and clear, but I'm fairly certain the costuming in the lake scene of Addams Family Values delivers the same message, with greater entertainment. It doesn't matter how much I valued colour, friendship, or pretty hair, when I was a kid, I wanted to be Christina Ricci in this scene, not the posse of girls around her.
The film isn't a total bust, there are plenty of adult jokes, and references to previous versions. Additionally, music, lighting, and camera movements are used to create humour. At times though, the messages come through louder than the humour. We have the obvious embodiment of the theme in the teenage Addams children, and the same message is delivered for adults, in the name of the Margaux's town: Assimilation. The humans of this town have developed a mob mentality, taking social media as their gospel and excluding anyone who isn't the same as them. It's made crystal clear that this is neither an effective, intelligent, nor safe way to live.
In all, it's not a bad film, but in my opinion, it's not the best representation of this family. I don't think a lot of people watch The Addams Family for a message; they watch for fun. Even for those audience members that may have been having an uproarious time, the message in this one cannot be dodged. In the closing minutes, it's stated verbatim: "we shouldn't judge them just because they're different". I'm judging this film because it isn't different enough. It seems like a lot of other family films, which is somewhat disappointing. Like I've already said, it isn't a bad watch. However, it doesn't have the same spark as earlier incarnations.