Nitrogen

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 56: Sausage Party 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!)

WARNING/PARENTAL HEADS UP!:  This film is in no way meant for kids. It’s rated-R for a reason, with shock humor, swearing, sex jokes, sexual events by way of food, and graphic in its jokes and imagery. Do not watch this with your kids. Hope you enjoy the review!

As much as people like to think theatrical adult-animated films are new, they really aren’t. Back in the 70s, we had a lot of stylized-adult animated films with adult themes and softcore porn. Now, to say that they are rare to see these days is true. Due to how quickly the fad of adult-animated films came and went for only a few years, it’s now almost surprising to see an animated film made for theaters, directly aimed at adults. Not to say the direct-to-DVD market hasn’t seen them, since a few have popped up, but I wouldn’t put them in the same category or quality as ones released in theaters. Sure, we got Hell & Back, but that was in no way made to be on par with or of the same quality as, say, Eight Crazy Nights, another horrible adult-animated film that Adam Sandler somehow thought was a good idea. It’s definitely a thing to keep an eye out for, but just because it’s different doesn’t warrant that it’s going to be good. This is definitely a hurdle that today’s review of Sausage Party had to contend with. This 2016 stoner-comedy comes from the minds of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and duo of directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tieman. It was a hyped film when it was first shown off during SXSW 2016, and a leaked script went viral online. It was a surprise hit for a month not known for great movies, but also is now caught in  some controversy that I will of course talk about later on in the review. I mean, I have to. It’s the biggest news story for this film, besides how big of a hit it is. So, is this film as good as some of the big classics it’s spoofing, or has the food gone into moldy-way-past-its-time milk? Let’s find out.

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The story revolves around a hot dog named Frank, voiced by Seth Rogen. He lives in a supermarket with all the food that believes and sings a song about what supposedly happens once you leave the supermarket. Frank is also in love with a hot dog bun named Brenda, voiced by Kristen Wiig. One day, Frank finds out that he and Brenda are going to be leaving in the same cart. However, on that same day, they encounter a slightly “touched” individual named Honey Mustard, voiced by Danny McBride, who tells them what really happens to food after they enter the “great beyond”. After a cart crashes into another one causing mass chaos and death of certain food items, Frank and Brenda end up in the supermarket, along with a bagel named Sammy Bagel Jr, voiced by Edward Norton, a taco named Teresa del Taco, voiced by Salma Hayek, and a Lavash named Kareem Abdul Lavash, voiced by David Krumholtz. Can they find out what is exactly going on, and also avoid a villain, voiced by Nick Kroll? What will happen to Frank’s friends played by Jonah Hill and Michael Cera?

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If I’m going to be honest, I’m going to start with the negatives with this film. I don’t hate this movie, but I do think it has its handful of flaws. Maybe it’s because I have been spoiled by Edgar Wright comedies and The LEGO Movie, but I found the humor to be hit-and-miss. It’s not consistent enough as it tries to balance crude humor, stoner humor, clever humor, and food puns. I would rather have had fewer jokes that hit bullseye than a bunch of jokes where only some work. I did find myself laughing at a lot of the jokes and finding some of the situations clever, but then you would run into jokes that were crude just to be crude, because some notes from the higher-up said they needed to be crude. I also found the pacing to slow down a bit in the middle part of the film.

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Now then, let’s talk about the current may-or-may-not be true controversy revolving around the studio that made Sausage Party, Nitrogen. The controversy is revolving around a bunch of anonymous animators for this film, saying that many of the animators on the film were not credited, they all worked unpaid overtime, and were abused from one of the directors, Greg Tieman. Here is how I look at the situation. If the investigation turns out to be true, and I won’t be surprised if they are, since I also worked in an industry (the game industry) known for abusive work experiences, then screw Tieman and Nitrogen for making people work unpaid overtime. Humans are not machines, and they don’t deserve the fear of blacklisting, being left off the credits, or being fired because they are exhausted. I have also heard it was to keep production budgets low, and whoever thought that, whether it be Tieman or not, can go bugger off. People these days need to be able to make a living, and not giving them the time and relaxation they need is infuriating, since you can tell this film had so much love and work put into the animation. However, if these turn out to be fake allegations, then that’s also terrible. It would be a bad image for animators who have actually gone through abusive jobs, and if these complaints turn out to be false, who is to assume that all future complaints are false? I can see either being the case, but we will have to see what happens.

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So, with that out of the way, what is great about this movie? Well, I like the animation. For a small budget (and if true, unfortunate unpaid overtime), the animation is fluid, expressive, and it captures that look and vibe of something from Disney, Pixar, or those old-fashioned concession stand ads that you would see. While most studios try to have that Disney/Pixar look, this film is yet another example, alongside The Little Prince, that does a good job at making good looking humans. I also liked the vibe and characters of the film. Granted, some of the characters are a bit one-note to get some social commentary out there, but I found myself enjoying their company, since some of them were able to be fleshed out, like Michael Cera’s character, and Frank. I also like the commentary about religion this film brings up because, at first it comes off like “why in tarnation do you all believe in something that we have no proof of?”, and then becomes a bit more evened out with “yeah, we all have different beliefs, and I should be more respectful, but we have to fight or else we will get eaten!” While some of its commentary is very shallow, I do like that a stoner comedy tried to be more than just, well, a stoner comedy. I think everyone brings their A game and feels fully invested with their huge or small amount of screentime given to them. Yes, it might have a bunch of Seth Rogen’s crew, like Jonah Hill, James Franco, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson, but you also get hilarious performances from Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, Edward Norton, David Krumholtz, and the rest of the cast. I think this is why I tolerated a lot of the food puns, because when the good jokes rolled through, I was laughing hard. I even laughed at the shocking food orgy. While it was so out there, it was amazing that they got away with so much, only because it was all food. It literally gives a whole new meaning to “food porn.”

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Now, in terms of it being a stepping stone for future animated films aimed at teens/older adults, I am all for it. While it might have that awkward controversy, it is a monster hit. I know some disagree with it being the film to bring in more adult-animated films, but I disagree, and think that’s just pessimistic and cynical thinking. While it might not be the very first adult-animated film, I do think it will have a place in helping more animated films get made that are aimed for an older audience. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want all adult-animated films to be just stoner comedies, but if this helps get more varied animated films than fast-paced comedies, then I welcome it.

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Sausage Party might have its flaws, and while the controversy that neither Sony nor Seth Rogen have brought up at all is troubling if true, I still very much enjoyed the movie. I had a fun time even with its sometimes clunky jokes and pacing. However, this recommendation to see it does come with a huge asterisk next to it. If you can separate the film from its supposed controversy (which again, if proven to be true, I hope great things happen to those wronged in the situation, and if proven false, then screw those people), then definitely go see it. If you can’t do such a task, then maybe wait for a rental, or check it out at a discount theater so you don’t give too much money to the film. If you don’t like this movie, I perfectly understand, due to how divisive comedy can be. Well, that was tiring, but I must press ever onward with my one-year special, covering Rex the Runt. Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed the article, and see you all next time.

Rating: Go See It!