They’re creepy and they’re kooky and still as delightful as ever. The animated reboot of the classic comic family is a refreshingly modern update that still retains the classic charm. With a Tim Burton-esque design to its characters and world, the film balances family-friendly comedy and scares with a story celebrating individuality against conformity. The script may tread over obvious story beats making its reveals and conclusions expected but the energetic action of the animation and performances makes it a delightful experience.
The Addams Family focuses on how the family’s peculiar aesthetic clashes with a “perfect” neighbouring town built and designed by an egotistical home makeover television host. After a decade of exile, The Addams finally interact with this modern world, with the new discoveries creating unforeseen obstacles between the parents and the children. The film tells a sweet story of Gomez and Morticia both trying to have Wednesday and Pugsley adhere to family customs rather than concede to more modern ideas. Reflective of the film itself which has to balance the tradition and nostalgia of the source material but also updating it to make it relevant for a current audience. Through their conflict against the new community literally named Assimilation that despises the Addams family with a hive mind mentality, the film has the elder Addams’s accept and celebrate what makes their children unique especially if it leans towards the sadistic and the destructive.
Performance-wise Oscar Issac and Charlize Theron embody Gomez and Morticia so perfectly it's almost a shame they aren’t able to play them in live-action. The loving relationship between the characters is perfect and grounds the gothic madness around them. Chloë Grace Moretz’s Wednesday is also a great addition with her character arc leading to the film’s funniest moments as her teenage rebellion has her exploring her creativity for torment. The more bizarre members of the family; Fester, Lurch, and Thing are regulated to quick portions of comic relief but each gets several moments that get the whole family laughing.
Packed with references not only to the 1970’s television show and comic series, The Addams Family is able to inject modern pop culture naturally into its unique style. Whether it's through Lurch playing musical cues on the piano or Snoop Dogg voicing a very dapper Cousin Itt, the film can keep a fine balance between classic and contemporary. The obvious visual inspirations from Burton films Edward Scissorhands and Nightmare Before Christmas makes the polished feel of the animation style a detriment, however. Everything is smooth and refined, like an Instagram filter to soften a harsher image, while this works in establishing the “dreamlike” town of Assimilation it robs The Addams Family of their full visual capability. Burton’s stop motion animation always captured a gothic beauty to their characters and that level of detail could have brought a new level of storytelling to the film.
Even with its shortcomings, The Addams Family still has what it needs to deliver good comedy and family fun. There is a care and respect from the filmmakers to this property that's reflected in its script, performances and music. Capturing the nostalgia for the adults and delivering a new adventure for the kids that will have them all snapping their fingers by the end.