The Addams Family is a blast! It’s fun and it’s funny. The laughs come not just from its dialogue but also from its visual humor.
It helps that most of us are familiar with the Addams characters and their, um, eccentricities. They’ve been depicted in magazine cartoons, a 60s TV series, 90s live action movies and an animated TV series. This newest movie, to be clear, is a computer-animated tale.
In most animated films that use famous actors in the voice roles, certain voices seem to dominate. That’s not the case here. The voice work is excellent and efficient but does not call special attention to particular cast members. (Okay, maybe Snoop Dogg’s brief work as Cousin It merits a slight nod.)
Though Tim Burton is not connected to this movie, his influence is present. Not just his work in The Nightmare Before Christmas (which Burton did not direct but shepherded through its production) but also Edward Scissorhands. Of course, it’s not hard to guess that earlier incarnations of The Addams Family influenced Burton’s work. (Burton was initially booked to do a stop-action Addams film in 2010.)
In The Addams Family, Gomez (Oscar Isaac), Morticia (Charlize Theron), Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moritz), Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard), Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll), and Lurch (Conrad Vernon) live in a dark mansion on a hilltop, not unlike the locale of Vincent Price’s place in Edward Scissorhands.
Just down the hill from the Addams home sits a planned cookie-cutter community called Assimilation. The town and its colors echo those of the subdivision in Edward Scissorhands.
Assimilation’s town leader/busybody and TV home design maven Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) views the Addams clan as a threat to her vision of Disney-like neatness and conformity. She panics when Wednesday Addams gives Margaux’s daughter a Goth makeover. As the extended Addams family comes to visit, a showdown in inevitable.
To be honest, I have been disappointed with many non-Pixar animated films in recent years. Bad ideas and perfunctory execution have generated lots of yawns and shrugs. But The Addams Family revels in cleverness and the film moves through its narrative with smiles and chuckles and nary a slowdown.
The Addams Family is rated PG and runs just under 90 minutes.