There are fewer cultural properties I have more affection for than The Addams Family. I love the original series, I love the Raul Julia/Anjelica Huston movies, and I adore every moment of the 2010 Broadway musical. The first iteration of The Addams Family, however, is a comic strip series from The New Yorker beginning in 1938. This new animated Addams film theoretically would bring that version back to the public eye. So why is this thing so insufferably dreadful?
Gomez and Morticia Addams (Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron) are unhappy as can be, living in their perfect home, an abandoned asylum. Their children Wednesday and Pugsley (Chloe Grace Moretz and Finn Wolfhard) are content in their weirdly off-kilter lives, but as the constant fog surrounding their house begins to lift, a disturbing change is in the air.
This is a movie made for and aimed at children and not adults who already have an affection for this material. Those people will be bored to tears by this. Directed (poorly) by Sausage Party’s Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, there are several different ways this could have gone. It could have been a bizarre, weird adaptation aimed at adults. It also could have kept the sardonic irreverence ingrained in previous iterations of The Addams Family, while also being a family-friendly film that would bring this material before a new generation.
But, no. The Addams Family could not be more clichéd, the overall message being the familiar kid-movie archetype ‘be yourself.’ Ultimately, it feels like a Despicable Me rip-off where the jokes don’t land as well. I didn’t laugh once during the entire 87 minute-long runtime, and that is heartbreaking to me. The best joke occurs within the first two minutes, where Morticia uses the remains of her deceased parents as makeup. Yes, I just spoiled the best joke. You shouldn’t see this movie.
Matt Lieberman is a screenwriter with only one other credit to his name, The Christmas Chronicles – a bad Netflix Christmas movie. However, he has a long list of upcoming projects that appear to be one dud after another. Such a nothing talent should not have been trusted with material as iconic and vital as The Addams Family. His screenplay is so lazy and abysmal; he should never work in Hollywood again.
And this voice cast – oh, what a voice cast! Charlize Theron, Oscar Isaac, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, not to mention Bette Midler, Alison Janney, Nick Kroll, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Elsie Fisher, Tituss Burgess – Snoop Dogg as Cousin Itt?! There’s an insane number of talented people in this trash, and it so easily didn’t have to be this way. I would have preferred this had been a live-action film with this exact same cast. Better yet, what I’ve been pushing for since 2010 – a live-action adaptation of The Addams Family Broadway musical. It’s got a terrific score, great laughs, and, most importantly, it stays true to the spirit of the original source material, something I cannot say for this horrendous failure of a film.
Despite the confused approach, cheap gags, and ugly animation, the biggest problem The Addams Family faces is that it’s ultimately quite dull. We never really appreciate these characters the way we do in different versions of this story. Some come across as quite annoying, which is usually never the case. I saw this in a theater full of families, and you could tell even the kids were bored. This is a dreadful blemish on The Addams Family legacy that will be quickly forgotten.