Charlize Theron

168: The Addam's Family Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

It's that spooky time of year again, and fortunately for me, I have two animated features that I can review that aren't some old TV specials! It's not that I don't care about or have nostalgia for Halloween specials, but I want to tackle animated features that can be enjoyed during Halloween. That's why I was happy to come across the new Addam's Family film and Zombillenium. However, let's tackle the iconic spooky family first with 2019's The Addam's Family. Directed by the duo of Conrad Vernon and Craig Tierman, and animated by Nitrogen Studios and Cinesite, it was released on October 11th to mostly mixed-to-negative reviews, but it has made back its budget, and hopefully will make a tidy profit for MGM. I mean, it's already got a sequel being planned, so that's a good sign. So, what do I think about the monstrous antics of the Addams Family? Well, read my review, you goofy ghoulies! 

 

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The film stars, of course, The Addams Family. You have the husband Gomez Addams, voiced by Oscar Isaac, and Morticia Addams, Gomez’s wife who is voiced by Charlize Theron. Both of them have two kids named Pugsley Addams, voiced by Finn Wolfhard and Wednesday Addams, voiced by Chloe Grace Moretz. Of course, it isn't the Addams Family without Uncle Fester, voiced by Nick Kroll, and Grandmama, voiced by Bette Midler. The family lives in a mansion that rests at the top of a mountain overlooking a small town called Assimilation. The town is essentially run by a reality TV star homemaker named Margaux Needler, voiced by Allison Janney. Can the Addams keep living their lives and not fall into the control of people who are against their ways? 

 

Let's talk about the positive elements of the film. For a film with a $40 mil budget, the animation is decent. The skin textures look a little too smooth, but the fact that they designed the characters off of the original comic is a masterstroke in character design. I know most people are fond of the live-action makeup and costumed version of the spooky family, but I think animation is a prime one-size-fits-all medium for the family. It also helps that all of the characters have little details and character movements that make them stand out. I'll never get over the fact that Wednesday Addams has noose-shaped pigtails. That's easily one of the funniest details of the entire film. It's a delightfully spooky and cartoony-looking film, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. 

 

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Speaking of the family itself, I don't think you could have asked for a better cast. Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, and Bette Midler are perfect for the film. While I have some issues with who gets the spotlight, I really adored the interaction between the family members. They feel like a family, and they still carry that spirit of "we are odd, but who cares. We are awesome!" If I had to pick an MVP for the film, I think I would say Wednesday Addams steals the show. Chloe's dry and slow delivery of the dialogue makes her a laugh riot. She has the best lines and the best scenes. I also enjoyed the scenes with Grandmama and Gomez as well. While there are some issues with the comedy in the film, a bit of that dark comedy is sprinkled throughout it. I'm even interested if I missed a few visual gags when I was first watching it. I found myself laughing and chuckling pretty consistently during the film, maybe not as much as The Angry Birds Movie 2, but I was still laughing pretty often.

 

Now then, we got all of the positives, and middle-of-the-road stuff out of the way, and now, we get to the parts I didn't like. Unlike many films that have different issues, or issues that people can't seem to agree on, you can count me as on the side of "I agree with the main issue". The main issue is that, for a franchise that is drenched in dark comedy from its premise to the dialogue, the film somewhat defangs the dark humor. There are darkly funny jokes here and there from the film, but it's not like the 90s films that came out where you had them dumping hot oil on Christmas carolers. The humor feels unevenly spread through a lot of the family members, and that's a shame that they took a bit of the bite that the franchise is known for. I also felt like it was uneven concerning who the story wanted to focus on. Wednesday Addams gets most of the time onscreen, while the rest of the plot involving the family is not as exciting. I get the themes of discrimination and being okay with who you are, but it doesn't go far enough with the ideas. It's a shame, because discrimination is a major issue that we have to solve. Even the villain is a touch on the weak side. She has a terrible (in a good villain way) plan, but again, it's not taken far enough. 

 

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I also wish the animation was a bit punchier. I don't know if they were told to not go crazy, but like the humor, it could have had more teeth to it. Either they needed more time and money, or they didn't know how to go a bit further. It's disappointing because the team is mostly the same people that made the controversial Sausage Party

 

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It might not have the fangs of the original source material, but I still found myself falling for the charm of The Addams Family. It could have used punchier and darker jokes, but it's a fairly harmless film. Plus, it did well enough to get a sequel. Hopefully, they can improve upon everything that the first film is faulty with. Now then, next time, we shall end our spooky month with a review of Zombillenium

 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

 

 

Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation 54: Kubo and the Two Strings Review

 
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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

I am very passionate about animated movies that don’t get the treatment they deserve. I think it’s obvious everyone would rather watch a great movie and support it than something drummed up from Hollywood that shows they have no idea what they are doing. Still, it’s probably the most infuriating thing when a great movie is drowned out by utter garbage. I think one of the best examples of this was with Kung Fu Panda 2. This 2011 sequel was released around the same week that The Hangover Part 2 was released. What happened? More people went to see the mediocre sequel to a film that wasn’t really that great in the first place, instead of a sequel that did everything right by being not just a great movie, but a great sequel. Kung Fu Panda 2 did well enough, but seeing it get beat out by a mediocre sequel was no short of maddening. I could go into detail about why the public movie-going audience can be a major problem about the movie industry, but I‘ll tackle that another time. Today, I’m going to talk about what is quite possibly the best animated movie of the year, Kubo and the Two Strings. Yes, the masters at Laika have made the best animated movie of the year that tops even the amazing Zootopia and The Little Prince. This film, by director Travis Knight in his first directorial position, wowed me. I mean, why did it wow me? Well, let’s find out.

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The story follows the adventure of a young boy named Kubo, voiced by Art Parkinson. He lives in a mountainside cave with his mother. During the day he performs magical shows with his shamisen bringing origami characters to life, but always returns by nightfall at his mother’s request. One day, Kubo accidentally stays after the sun has set, and encounters two creepy raven-like women named Sisters, both voiced by Rooney Mara. Kubo’s mother comes down to save him, but ends up sending Kubo away. Kubo then wakes up in a snowy part of the world, and is now accompanied by a white monkey, voiced by Charlize Theron. They run into a humanoid beetle-like samurai named, well, Beetle, voiced by Matthew McConaughey. The three set off to find a legendary set of weapons and armor to take down the Moon King, voiced by Ralph Fiennes, the powerful being that has been trying to take Kubo for his own needs. Can Kubo survive and find the weapons to take down the Moon King?

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Let’s talk about the good, because I have nothing but good things to say about this remarkable movie. The story is perfectly packed with what you want in a good action adventure movie. It has a great male lead. Kubo is one of the best child characters I have ever seen, not only this year, but in animation in general. He cares for his mother, is enjoyable around the people in his town, and has a great realistic child personality. Speaking of great personalities, the film has an impressive cast of side characters. These are some of the most likable secondary characters, with Monkey’s protective and serious persona, and Beetle being a great fighter, but a mostly light-hearted tone to him. The three characters, Kubo, Monkey, and Beetle work so well off each other, and that happens because of a terrific script. The best part about scripts from Laika is the fact that the humor gels well with classic dialogue that, like The Little Prince, is timeless. Everyone sounds like they were from that time period. The film has a great voice cast. While I could argue the tightrope argument of why Laika didn’t cast more Asian actors for the roles, since the two that they hired, George Takei and Cary-Hiroyuki are side characters who play no major role of the story, but that’s for another article that I won’t talk about here, because even with that little hiccup, the cast they hired for this movie is perfect. The actors all pull off amazing performances that make you see the characters, and not just actors being actors. I have noticed that recently, many animated films have made sure to get actors that fit the roles, and can immerse themselves within them. Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, Matthew McConaughey, Art Parkinson, Brenda Vaccaro, and George Takei and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, for as big or small as their roles are, all did amazing jobs. I don’t know whether the person in charge of the performances did a great job, or whether these actors felt super passionate about the project and animation, or both, but give them all A+ on their performances. The movie knows how to pace itself with fights, story, and world-building. While some could argue that they could have added another fight, I am so happy that this film balanced out some really good fights, and how they took their time with developing the characters and the world around them. Too many times do action adventure-oriented films put all their bets on the animation and action, while not having much focus on everything else. Kubo and the Two Strings was just a remarkable movie to be in, and has stakes and sequences that keep you invested and wanting to know what happens until the very end.

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The animation is beautiful. It’s easily the best stop-motion animation I have ever seen. It’s so fluid, the world and character designs have personality, and look unique. The fight scenes are well-animated, and are choreographed beautifully. It’s some of the best action you will ever see in animation, alongside Kung Fu Panda, Ninja Scroll, How to Train your Dragon 2, The Boy and the Beast, and Read or Die. They take advantage of everything about the film, from the surrounding environment to who the characters are, like Beetle being able to fly and crawl on walls. The music is gorgeous to listen to, with some great tunes from Kubo’s Shamisen sequences to the amazing score by famed composer Dario Marianelli, who also did the soundtrack for Everest, The Boxtrolls, and V for Vendetta. The ending song that plays in the credits, While My Guitar Gently Weeps by Regina Spektor, (which she covers so well, it was originally a Beatles song by George Harrison) is performed on a Shamisen. That is so incredible that this singer went all out with this song in terms of performing the song on the main instrument of the film.

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I really don’t have major complaints about the movie. I think this is one of those rare perfect movies that even if you could come up with any negative issues, they wouldn’t bring the movie down at all. Actually the biggest problem this film has is being released in August. I am so upset and irritated that Universal decided to release this during the worst part of August, due to the target audience not being able to see it until the weekend because of school starting, and while a mediocre comic book movie is still at number one. That’s another problem. Why would people go see a movie that is flawed, clunky, and had obvious scenes cut out or sloppily edited, instead of a complete, passion-filled animated film that had more effort and creativity put into it than 99% of the films released this year. This is exactly what happened to Kung Fu Panda 2, and that is a crime that the movie-going public doesn’t fully respect animation and think it’s just for kids. That will be an argument for another time. As you can tell, I’m very passionate about this movie, and I want it to be doing better than as of 8/24/16.

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If you couldn’t tell, I love Kubo. I stand by my opinion that this is the best animated film of 2016. I thought nothing would top Zootopia and The Little Prince, but Laika did it.  It’s not only one of the best stop-motion films of all time, it’s one of the best animated films of all time. Seriously, people, go see this movie. It deserves much more of your attention than a remake of a remake nobody asked for. I don’t mean to bash other movies out right now, and I do like a lot of modern/current movies, but people cry and complain that we don’t get to see enough unique and original movies, and then when one comes out and is critically acclaimed, no one sees it because of maddening reasons. If you love original movies, and want to support something that isn’t a big budget disaster, then seriously check out Kubo and the Two Strings. I have felt so satisfied reviewing good movies, and I want to continue that with one of my favorite indie-animated films of 2016, April and the Extraordinary World. Thanks for reading, I hope you liked the movie, and see you all next time.

Rating: Criterion/Essentials!