By Alex Skrapits
Da-da-da-dum, *snaps twice*, Da-da-da-dum *snaps twice* *Da-da-da-dum, Da-da-da-dum *snaps twice* Every time you would hear that jingle, then you would immediately recognize it as the theme music for the Addams Family. Based on the comics by Charles Addams, the series involves an eccentric family that loves anything ghastly while being oblivious that the world around them finds them scary. It spawned the classic 60s television series, two animated series by Hanna-Barbera, two live-action movies (featuring the late Raul Julia, Christina Ricci and Christopher Lloyd) and many merchandise. While I wasn’t in-depth with the franchise growing up, I actually find the characters memorable and did recall seeing the live-action movies around Halloween when channel surfing. Originally, Universal planned to make a stop-motion animated Addams Family movie, with Tim Burton directing. However, MGM acquired the rights and made it computer-animated instead. Either way, the Addams Family is no stranger to animation before, so anything is possible.
When the Addams Family moves into New Jersey, they confront a TV reality host while preparing for their extended family to arrive for a major tradition.
Reading this synopsis out loud, you would soon expect out that the story is clichéd and predictable. It’s your typical outcast story where the characters move to a new place and have a difficult time fitting in at first, but eventually become adjusted in the end. Throw in a prejudice conflict and a moral about accepting others that are different. We all seen this type of story before but, in a bizarre case, I do think it kind of fits for the Addams Family. As I mentioned before, the Addams Family themselves have a passionate love for anything creepy or unnatural that they don’t realize what others think of them. The most refreshing aspect about this recycled plot is that the set-up is played the other way around. In layman’s terms, a new community has developed around the family’s native land. Then again, we have to go through passé side-plots about child rebellion and following family traditions. From what I understand, the franchise also supplied dark humor with the characters’ behavior and the environment around them. For the most part, it prevails. Can you imagine using your dead parents’ ashes as make-up or trying to hurt your relative with an axe or crossbow? Granted, they don’t go too far as compared to previous incarnations, since the movie is aimed for families. Not to mention the ending scene has a nice, animated recreation of the original show’s intro with lyrics added for anyone in the audience to sing-along to. Even if the story is weak, you can tell at least the movie tried to deliver some, no pun intended, spirit from the source material.
The movie’s animation was provided by Cinesite studio, which previously worked on Sony Pictures Animation’s Christian family movie, The Star. With a budget of $24 million, the movie is surprisingly visually pleasing and has impressively, creative animation that Cinesite has ever done so far, when comparing their previous works. Ever since the promos and trailers were released, the Addams Family character designs remain faithful to the comics with heavy emphasis on shape, while the character animation has their own energy and distinctive movement. It’s not every day when you come across a little girl with noose-like hair braids or a living, disembodied hand wearing an “eye” watch. As for the backgrounds, they give an obvious, yet imaginative artistic contrast on the locations that the characters live in. For example, the Addams Family mansion is a haunted, abandoned asylum that consists of dark, gloomy colors and detailed, gothic architecture. This house will give you chills when you enter through the gate that opens like a mouth, avoid falling into a bottomless pit, and listening to an ominous voice telling you to “get out”.
On the other side, we have the planned community of “Assimilation” where the town has a vivid, limited color palette, repetitive construction and you have to do and act the same as everyone else. In other words, you are entering into a dictatorial society. The only setback I could think of is that some of the character designs on the residents of Assimilation look a little distorted and their eyes are so small that that you cannot tell their expression. They would easily be easily mistaken as members of the extended Addams Family than regular humans. Regardless, you cannot deny that the animation is easily the highlight of the movie.
The characters would be a little difficult to talk about whether you are familiar with this franchise or not. While the family retains their unconventional love for macabre and sword fencing, their personalities would come off as basic. Gomez is the loving father that follows his family tradition, yet wishes to be accepted by others while Morticia portrays as an overprotective mother that wants their family to be safe. Pugsley is their inventive and destructive son that falls under the side plot where he refuses to follow his family’s values. Wednesday is the mysterious daughter that falls under the side plot where she wants to see the world and adapt against her mother’s wishes. The living hand Thing and Frankenstein-like butler Lurch are easily the best characters where their action speaks louder than words thanks to their body gestures and visual gags.
Uncle Fester, Grandmama, Cousin Itt and the extended family act more as visiting relatives that help provide guidance for Pugsley’s story. And then, we have Margaux Needler, the sly and arrogant reality TV host that built Assimilation from the ground-up and determines to get rid of the Addams Family home if they refuse to change. She is so stereotypically evil that she is making Donald Trump look like Martha Stewart. In addition, we also have her neglected daughter Parker, whom becomes friends with Wednesday. To give credit where credit’s due, the voice acting is the best component about the characters. From Chloe Mortez’ delightfully, deadpan voice as Wednesday to Nick Kroll’s enthusiastic energy as Uncle Fester, each actor delivers their own charisma and personality more than the characters themselves. With all that said, I am NOT saying the characters are intolerable. Outside of the voice acting, I wish there was a little more about the family themselves than what they do.
Overall, The Addams Family is a serviceable family movie with creative animation, entertaining voice acting and some respect from the source material while the writing and characters could’ve been more tweaked. If you grew up with the Addams Family, it wouldn’t hurt to check out or least rent it. This movie is aimed more towards families and newer generations, so I guess it would be a nice introduction to them. They’re definitely creepy and kooky, but not completely ooky.
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