When you think of “The Addams Family,” you probably recall a beloved group of off-kilter characters who get into all manner of antics that playfully skewer conventional norms. Some people have gone so far as to describe the Addams as being “creepy/kooky,” perhaps even “spooky/ooky.”
That’s a perfect set up for the animated family film that hits theaters this weekend. An “Addams Family” movie, particularly when it’s animated, should be a delightful romp with amusing characters, lots of kid-friendly slapstick humor, oddball situations and a healthy dose of family-values heart.
Sadly, “The Addams Family” movie is not very good. The animation is pedestrian, the humor lacks bite and the none of the multiple storylines ever gather momentum. This is a mediocre film, which is a major disappointment given the source material’s potential.
The film follows the kooky family as they move into a haunted asylum in New Jersey. A television home makeover host (Allison Janey) wants to get rid of our monstrous family that lives on the hill above town. At the same time, we follow teenage Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) as she rebels against her mother (Charlize Theron). And there’s also the pressure put on young Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard) as his father (Oscar Isaac) tries to prepare him for an upcoming sabre dance that is something of a rite of passage.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with any of these storylines, but they are so jumbled up together that it’s easy to forget the overall thrust of the film. The end result is that nothing ever resonates past the surface-level plot.
The same holds true for the animation and the comedy. With the exception of Morticia, the characters design is on the same level as what you would expect to see in a weekly TV show. I understand that the animators are tied to previous designs for the principal cast, but as there are dozens of monster relatives to sketch. There’s just not a lot of creativity on display here.
The humor is also quite bland. That might be expected in a PG-rated film that’s aimed at the kiddies, but I certainly expected to see some amusing hijinks. There was one moment where I chuckled as a vampire bat drained the blood from Morticia’s face, and then I realized that we’d gone halfway through the film before it elicited even the mildest of laughs in me.
As I said, I found “The Addams Family” to be a major disappointment. I am actually a big fan of oddball animated family films like “Coraline,” “Para-Norman” or “Franken-Weenie,” so perhaps my dismay is tied to larger than average expectations, but there’s no denying that these Addams are more “mediocre/bland” than “kooky/ooky.”