The Addams Family

 

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Yet another re-working of Charles Addams’ creepy creation proves to be thin gruel indeed.

 
Addams Family, The 

Kith and sin: Gomez and Morticia

 

Au contraire. The joke about Gomez Addams and his creepy kin is that they’re different from other people. The grievously gloomy butler Lurch empties dust from the hoover over the furnishings and Mama Morticia reminds her revolting little boy, Pugsley, to kick his father goodnight. Such subversive humour may have been novel when Charles Addams’ cartoon first appeared in The New Yorker in 1938 but has since been overtaken by Fungus the Bogeyman and no end of seditious children's literature. The Addams Family itself was turned into a television series in 1964 (and frequently re-hashed), while the funereal family have featured in three live-action films.

 

This computer-animated edition, from the people who brought us the crude and chaotic Sausage Party, would seem to take its visual cue from the Hotel Transylvania films. That is, the characters are either spiky, L.S. Lowry matchstick figures or their globular opposites. It’s a style that lends itself to stop-motion animation and one can but recall fondly such macabre wonders as Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Unfortunately, Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan’s unsightly mishmash – which is already threatening a sequel in 2021 – is both laboured and largely nonsensical.

 

A running joke has poor Uncle Fester (voiced by Nick Kroll) repeatedly impaled by bolts from Pugsley’s crossbow, including one that enters one ear and out the other. Gomez himself (Oscar Isaac) compliments his wife Morticia’s hand for feeling “as cold as a dead fish” but is actually kissing a dead fish (which he then guiltily pockets). This really isn’t good enough. But it’s the story of a new town that springs up overnight, and the hostility of its inhabitants to the Addams’ presence, that really undermines the film. The hurried finale – ripped straight from the climax of James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) – is so half-baked that it beggars belief. Even more inconceivable is that the likes of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Bette Midler and Allison Janney agreed to lend their vocal talents to the project.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Voices of  Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, Allison Janney, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Conrad Vernon, Pom Klementieff, Jenifer Lewis, Elsie Fisher, Tituss Burgess.

 

Dir Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, Pro Gail Berman, Conrad Vernon, Alex Schwartz and Alison O'Brien, Screenplay Matt Lieberman, Pro Des Patricia Atchison and Kyle McQueen, Ed Kevin Pavlovic and David Ian Salter, Music Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna, Sound Tim Chau.

 

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Nitrogen Studios/Bron Creative/Cinesite/The Jackal Group-Universal Pictures.

86 mins. USA/UK/Canada. 2019. Rel: 25 October 2019. Cert. PG.