If there is one fictional family that has stood the test of time, it would be the Addams Family. The New Yorker comic strip by Charles Addams has branched out to different mediums since the first publication in 1938, from the beloved 1964 TV show, cartoon adaptations, a musical and two beloved theatrical films in the 1990s. 26 years later, the creepy, kooky family has returned to the silver screen.
The movie follows the eponymous family: Gomez (Oscar Isaac), Morticia (Charlize Theron), Wednesday (Chloe Grace-Moretz), Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard) Lurch (Conrad Vernon) and Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll), as they learn about a town at the foot of the mountain they live on called “Assimilation.” As they go down to the town, they learn that it’s run by Margaux Needler (Allison Janney), the host of a home makeover show. After the Addams reject her efforts to flip their house so that it blends with the community, she’s turns the town against the family by spreading rumors. As this is going on, there are two subplots involving the children: one has Wednesday branching out to the town and befriending Margaux’s daughter, Parker (Elsie Fisher), and the other has Gomez trying to get Pugsley prepared for his Mazurka, a traditional sword dance that’s a rite of passage that every man in the family is required to go through.
Each of the actors’ voices blend for their respective character. Isaac and Theron reflect their characters perfectly; their chemistry satisfies the passionate love that has become synonymous with the couple. Finn Wolfhard is enjoyable as Pugsley, but Chloe Grace-Moretz shines in this film. While resembling Christina Ricci’s performances in the 90s films, Grace-Moretz’s Wednesday comes into her own, as the she takes full advantage of the fact that the film’s CG nature allows her character to transcend the limitations of live action.
And then you have Allison Janney’s Margaux, who is having the time of her life. She plays the role as a hybrid of a reality star mixed with a Facebook soccer mom; this makes her outbursts enjoyable, as they provide Janney a chance to ham things up. As a fan of “The West Wing,” seeing her wear a more eccentric mask that contrasts the hard-working CJ Cregg was a joy. In the third act, the extended members of the family show up for Pugsley’s Mazurka and while each of them have a small presence, they make it worth the time. Snoop Dogg plays Cousin Itt, Jenifer Lewis is one of the more judgmental relatives, and Conrad Vernon as the fiery devil-like relative Dr. Flambé. Each of the relatives not only give texture to the scene but solidifies the Addams Family.
The storylines are all simple and enjoyable. Each of the subplots compliment the other with similar messages where the parents learn to respect their child’s individuality, while the children learn the importance of family. Meanwhile, the main story brilliantly adapts the timeless property for a modern audience with a critique of social media working like the Salem Witch Trials. Margaux’s use of social media to spread rumors during makes her a solid villain on a narrative level. And the fact that Margaux’s show is a parody of house flipping shows adds more layer to the cautionary message about conformity.
Like the 90s film, this movie takes the timeless classic and naturally introduces it to a new audience. A story with contemporary references that keep the movie from being dated, it comes to life with an ensemble cast that makes the characters come to life. With Halloween coming up, what better way to embrace the bizarre and gothic season than with a family that celebrates it year-round.