Since their first appearance in a single frame cartoon in The New Yorker, the black humour of The Addams Family has made them one of the most iconic families in the world. Decades on and numerous TV series and films later, the Addams come full circle, with Morticia (Charlize Theron), Gomez (Oscar Isaac), Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz), and Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard) appearing in animated form on the big screen.
When Gomez and Morticia flee to America, after a torch wielding angry mob attacks them on their wedding day, they finally find a place they can call home, a haunted and abandoned asylum far from all civilisation. Thirteen years later, and the Addams family has become larger, and settled within their house, but as both their children reach the rebellious teen years, the mists that surround their home clears to reveal a newly built town near by their estate. One that has been built by a reality TV star Margaux Needler (Allison Janney), and Assimilation is meant to be the idyllic slice of small town life, no matter the cost.
This CGI version remains respectful of The Addams Family tradition, sticking close to Charles Addams’ original cartoon design, but also melding elements of the popular 60s TV series, and the 90s films. For fans of all three it offers plenty of references, some of them pretty deep cuts, as well as a number of classic horror references thrown in for good measure (and a few laughs).
Yet it also stays true to the themes of the Addams family, threading them into the narrative. The mysterious and spooky family has always been proud of its own identity, assured of both its traditions and it own truth. This film takes that into the world of cyber surveillance, reality TV and social media, even pitting the Addams family’s non conformity against Instagram filters. The result is what you’d expect, but makes a few salient points as to why The Addams Family is successful. It walks a line of respect and acceptance, while casting a darkly satirical eye over current social norms. This film embraces a sense of pride in family and history, while acknowledging the infinite possibility of change. The Addams seek a tolerant way (despite their family motto), while proudly letting their freak flag fly.
However in trying to reintroduce the family to audiences and give them all something to do, the film does hamper itself slightly, by giving itself too many plot threads to deal with. They’re dealt with in a mostly satisfactorily, but it does lead to some slightly clunky pacing. Still, in its main focus on parental relationships within the family, and then the families relationship to the outside world, it does give itself a rough frame work to hang everything on.
A fantastic voice cast in a film that manages to stay true to the work that inspired it, while making it relevant to today. The Addams Family holds a lot for fans of the original, and will hopeful introduce a few more to the morbid delights of the world’s most iconic goths.