sat 04/04/2020

The Addams Family review - more treat than trick | reviews, news & interviews

The Addams Family review - more treat than trick

The Addams Family review - more treat than trick

Animated reboot works best when sticking to the source material

A shocking recreation: Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron voice Gomez and Morticia

Starting life as a comic strip in 1938, The Addams Family seems to have reinvented itself for every generation. It’s the story of an odd-ball family from ‘The old country’ (where that is geographically located is by-the-by), who love the grim and gothic. Their outlandish ways were neatly juxtaposed against the wholesome values of American suburbia.

Starting life as a comic strip in 1938, The Addams Family seems to have reinvented itself for every generation. It’s the story of an odd-ball family from ‘The old country’ (where that is geographically located is by-the-by), who love the grim and gothic. Their outlandish ways were neatly juxtaposed against the wholesome values of American suburbia. The comic preached a message of acceptance which was rife with quirky and yes, kooky, humour. It’s a narrative construction that lends itself easily to being updated, without losing that original black magic. 

From its humble begins in the New Yorker, the comic strip has since had incarnations as an iconic 1960s TV series, two films starring Angelica Huston and Christopher Lloyd in the 1990s, and now it’s back once again as an animation

Directing duo, Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, helm the latest iteration. Both have worked in animation before, ranging from Monsters vs. Aliens to Sausage Party, and can be considered a safe pair of hands. Oddly though, the new film has more in common with the Hotel Transylvania and Minions franchises, than it does with either of the directors’ back catalogues. The Addams FamilyPlenty of TV and film has aped The Addams Family over the years - from The Munsters to the aforementioned Hotel Transylvania. Now things have come full circle. When Tiernan and Vernon stick to what made the original comic successful, it works, but some of the updates, like seeing shrunken heads warbling Cardi B hits, is a little nauseating. 

Aesthetically, the characters stick closely to the original vision of comic strip creator, Charles Addams. The eccentric, sabre-obsessed Gomez (Oscar Isaac) is a dumpy figure with a centre parting and whispish moustache, who almost bounces rather than walks. Morticia (Charlize Theron) is all cheekbones and shoulder blades, confined in a bat-black shroud. 

Things can be more outlandish in an animation than a live action. The Addams’ house, which was formerly an asylum, lives and breathes with its very own poltergeist, becoming as central a character as Pugsly (Finn Wolfhard) or Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz). The voice cast thrown in their all, including Bette Midler as Grandma, and Allison Janney who plays the villain of the piece as Margaux Needler, a make-over TV host with the moral depth of a puddle. The less said about Snoop Dogg’s bizarre turn as Cousin It the better.

Will it have the timeless quality of the 90s versions? Unlikely. Yet, it’s more treat than trick, even if it is Despicable Me in a vampire cape and a pair of devil horns shoved on its head.

@JosephDAWalsh

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