The Addams Family

 

            It should have worked; it just didn't.  You can gather together all the A-list voice actors you want, but if there's no charm in the script, it's not going to come across on the screen, either.  The animation itself isn't bad, but it's not awe-inspiring, either.  This feels like a plot put together by a committee.  They try to have a little something for everyone, but wind up with no real target audience at all.

            The Addams Family was first envisioned by cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938.  Since then, there have been many permutations, in television and the movies, so the characters themselves are considered somewhat iconic in our culture.  Gomez (Oscar Isaac), the Dad, is trying to teach his rambunctious son Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard) to get interested in the family tradition of swordsmanship.  Instead, Pugsley is much more interested in making explosive devices.  The Mom, Morticia (Charlize Theron) is so intent on keeping the family weird that she resists her daughter Wednesday's request to go to a normal middle school.  Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moritz) soon defangs the school's main mean girl, and then in biology class, instead of dissecting the frogs, she electrocutes them back to life.  But what Morticia can't stand is Wednesday deciding to dress herself in bright colors, while her new friend, Parker (Elsie Fisher), adopts the Goth look.

            It's kinda fun to watch Lurch, the Frankenstein-like butler, play lots of different tunes on the beat-up organ, and then sing in a happy, lilting falsetto.  The villainness is the local realtor who overuses social media to set up cameras in people's homes, unbeknownst to them.  She'd also whipped up the townfolk into a classic pitchfork-wielding frenzy, ready to dispose of the monsters in the dark house on the hill.  But then the surprised townfolk find out that the Addams family is just as tight-knit as they are, just different.  And of course we all want to celebrate our differences.  (Insert politically correct vibes here.)

            So where is this going, really?  Nobody can tell.  It's not sarcastic enough to be campy, and it's not sharp enough to be witty.  The younger kids will be confused by middle school mean girls, and the older kids will think it's far too cheesy about diversity training.

            It's too bad.  With all the time and effort expended, there's no dramatic tension, there's little humor, and there's no glorious adventure, either.  Just because you've got the copyright doesn't mean you know what to do with it.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association