It’s not creepy or cooky, mysterious or spooky. The one word that sums-up the new CG animated version of “The Addams Family” is — bland.
Creators of this latest rendition based on the classic Charles Addams New Yorker comics were hoping to attract those who loved the ’60s TV series (which only ran for two years on ABC) and enjoyed the ’90s movies starring Anjelica Huston. At the same time, directors Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan (of the adult animated “Sausage Party”) were also trying to lure-in kids with a “Hotel Transylvania”-esque vibe.
The result is one of the least entertaining major animated releases in recent years. Forced from their home by unfriendly humans, newlyweds Gomez and Morticia escape to New Jersey. The couple settles into the dark mansion on a hill to start and raise their family. But down below is a new, squeaky clean community made up of “normal” people. Their leader is a manic interior design TV host (voiced by Allison Janney). She needs to drive the Addams clan out of town.
It’s the classic culture clash plot, complete with simple themes of (what else) the importance of family and acceptance. Sprinkled-in throughout are a host of contrarian one-liners from Gomez (an unrecognizable Oscar Isaac), Morticia (Charlize Theron) and Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll). I did chuckle a couple of times. Diehard “Addams” fans may appreciate a few other nods and references.
But “The Addams Family” is a challenge for kids to understand and identify with. The concepts and movements of these characters are obscure and eery, not positive or cheerful. A subplot involving a relationship between Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz) and middle school classmate Parker (“Eighth Grade”’s Elsie Fisher) is one of the film’s most successful elements. One involving Pugsley becoming a man through a sword ritual doesn’t work at all.
There was an opportunity here for a dark, insightful, edgy take on “Addams”, in the style of Tim Burton or Henry Selick — utilizing the tone of the original comics. The impressive look of the Addams family characters (the movie’s #1 strength) would have played well with that vision. But instead, this “Addams Family” is too silly, flat and uninspired.
In short, it simply doesn’t have “it”.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “The Addams Family” gets a C-.
Running Time: 87 min.