It’s been thirteen years since Gomez and Morticia Addams (Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron) were run out of town on their wedding day. Settling in an abandoned asylum, they’ve lived a life mercifully free of torch wielding villagers, (un)happily raising their children, Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard), in safety. Well, as safe as an Addams house filled with evil spirits and medieval torture devices can be.
But far below them, in the town of Assimilation, renovator and TV presenter Margeaux Needler (Alison Janney) has other ideas. She’s bet her entire fortune on this perfect little village, and if her houses don’t sell, there’ll be hell to pay.
So when the mist on the mountain begins to clear and the Addams Mansion is revealed to the pastel hued town below, Margeaux must act fast – that creepy family has got to go.
Brilliantly cast, and with a wonderfully exaggerated animation style that pays loving tribute to the original comic strips, The Addams Family is a fairly strong offering for the family these school holidays.
Voiced to perfection by Moretz, Wednesday Addams is the real (black) heart of the film. It’s Wednesday that first ventures outside the mansion, who befriends some of the local kids, and who ultimately delivers the key message – we’re all pretty much the same. Oh, and putting hidden cameras in people’s houses is bad. Like, really bad.
It’s a shrewd move to home in on the kids, in terms of the message the film wants to deliver and given the release schedule, but it’s a shame that comes rather at the expense of other key Addams Family themes. The heat between Gomez and Morticia, for example, is still there, but it’s certainly played down, and Fester, Grandmama and Cousin It (Voiced respectively by Nick Kroll, Bette Midler, and… well, you’ll see…) feel reduced to little more than cameos – though admittedly hilarious ones.
The overall plot is a little thin, with everything circling back to “be yourself” and “we’re not so different” morals, but with Morticia and Gomez taking on almost as much of a villain role as Janney’s Margeaux, there’s a nice little twist in the tale. Morticia’s distrust of anything non-Addams and Gomez clinging to his family’s traditions are understandable, but no less damaging to their children because of it.
For those meeting the family for the first time, there’s truly little to fear. The contemporary setting offers new technologies and scenarios to play with, and though the kooky jokes might occasionally go over the head of the very young or the very unfamiliar, when they land, they do land well.
That said, it’ll be interesting to see what people make of this latest imagining of The Addams Family, from those who watched the 60’s TV show or the 1992 cartoon to the 90s kids, who can’t imagine anyone other than Christina Ricci setting a match to the first Thanksgiving. Speaking as a little bit of both, I loved near every moment.
A slightly flimsy plot and a few overdone messages aside, it’s simply a huge amount of fun. Dismiss this delightfully spooky reboot at your peril – and not only because that Other Family Movie is going to be very very busy for the next few weeks!
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Addams Family is in cinemas from Thursday.