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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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Rating: Go See It!