The Addams Family is the most recent incarnation of Charles Addams' popular cartoon characters, which first appeared in the New Yorker magazine in 1938. Since their widespread printed popularity, they've been the subject of a whimsical live action series in the '60s, a cartoon show, and two live-action films in the '90s. Their particular quirky familial relations, macabre mannerisms, and over-the-top theatrics have delighted audiences for generations.
This new animated feature updates the Addams Family for a new era, including references to smartphones, reality television, and social media. For all its anachronisms, it doesn't eschew the classic Addams dry humor, nor any of the ghastly puns. It isn't as dark or gloomy as its predecessors, and projects the safe spookiness of recent genre entries like Hotel Transylvania, but it's still a lot of fun and a worthy contribution to the Addams Family legacy. So get your fingers snapping, here are 5 things the animated movie got right, and 5 it got wrong.
10 GOT RIGHT: THE ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGN
While many generations of Addams Family fans believe the live-action television series or the '90s films to be the definitive versions of the characters, this animated film is actually closer to their true likeness. They are the closest in resemblance to the drawings done by Charles Addams for the New Yorker in the '30s and '40s.
Gomez was short and round, Morticia was thin and elegant, Wednesday looked like a perpetually unimpressed bowling pin, and Pugsley like a fiendish football. Even Fester, Grandmama, Lurch, their pet octopus Aristotle, and Cleopatra their pet venus fly trap take after the Charles Addams' drawings.
9 GOT WRONG: THE MYSTERIOUS AND SPOOKY FACTOR
Because of animated series featuring ghosts and ghouls like Coco and the Hotel Transylvania series, The Addams Family at times feels like just another safe kids movie that happens to feature elements of horror. Therefore, it's not as jarring as either the television series or the '90s films.
The kiddie monster culture phenomena can trace its roots even further than those aforementioned films, with Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. But even those films had more of the "mysterious and spooky" and "altogether ooky" factor that the Addams Family are normally associated with.
8 GOT RIGHT: THE VOCAL CAST
While we'd have loved to see Oscar Isaac portray Gomez Addams in a live-action version, we're content to listen to his interpretation of the patriarch's oddball old-world cadence. He seems to delight in the role, infusing Gomez with the right level of passion, charisma, and theatrics.
Charlize Theron, who may not have looked the part of Morticia Addams in the flesh, certainly sounded like her, imbuing her with her own brand of sultry charm. Chloe Grace Moretz is a stand out as the sartorially dismal Wednesday, and Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things fame gives her brother Pugsley more personality than ever before. We even get Snoop Dogg in the role of Cousin Itt!
7 GOT WRONG: THE IRONIC ANTISOCIAL RHETORIC
The big irony of the Addams Family has always been that they may seem peculiar and quirky, but they are a loyal and loving family in their own eccentric way. All of the "normal" people around them are depicted as consumed by avarice, image, and materialism, despite their homogeneous and wholesome appearances.
In The Addams Family, none of the family seem to particularly revel in their bizarreness. Only Morticia seems to take any pride in what makes them different and sets them apart from the humdrum population around them. Meanwhile, Gomez wants to give everyone a chance and instantly make friends.
6 GOT RIGHT: THE DETAILS
Visually, The Addams Family is a stunning piece of macabre cinema. If you're the sort of viewer who delights in the details of a film, you'll be giddy as a ghoul for a glimpse at Lurch's cracking fingernails, or Wednesday's hair braided into two nooses.
Because it's animated, a lot more supernatural occurrences can appear truly magical, such as when spiders tumble out from beneath Morticia's dress to form a bridge she can walk over in the wine cellar. In a live-action film, this would have taken all of Grandmama's magic to pull off, but in this animated setting it seems effortless.
5 GOT WRONG: THE PLOT
For some reason, the Addams Family manor has been moved to New Jersey, where it seems to live above the prefab housing development of Assimilation (seriously). The Addams Family have always been nonconformist, but these plot points take the archetype to a whole new level.
Dastardly realty TV star Margeaux Needler wants to transform the Addams Family home on her home restoration show for big ratings. It sounds like the sort of modern update that would make sense in 2019, but seeing Needler furiously send out a series of cruel social media updates doesn't exactly seem like a menacing foe for the Addams to face.
4 GOT RIGHT: THE ORIGIN STORY
There are many references to "the old country" made by Gomez, Morticia, and Grandmama in many of the Addams Family iterations. There are anecdotes about being chased by angry mobs with pitchforks, but never have we witnessed it until now - and on Gomez and Morticia's wedding night of all times!
Forced to flee their homeland (which is somewhere in provincial East Europe), they fly to the most loathsome place they can think of: New Jersey. We get to see how it is they come to own the famous "Addams house," how they meet their future butler Lurch, and many other fascinating pieces of the Addams origin puzzle which make this film stand apart.
3 GOT WRONG: WEDNESDAY'S DESIRE TO FIT IN
Wednesday's rebellious teenage phase was bound to come up sooner or later. In this case, it happens in the ironic reverse of most teenagers, in that the onyx-clad Wednesday desires to wear pink bows, unicorn hair-clips, and anything to "shock" her parents. While the notion of Wednesday undergoing typical teenage rebellion is just fine, the way it's handled in the film negates what makes Wednesday who she is.
Yes, it proves that she's no different than any other girl asserting her independence, but it was also satisfying in other Addams Family adaptations that she didn't feel the need to hate her parents because they imposed guidelines. Besides, Christina Ricci pulling a mini-Morticia look in the '91 live-action film was a hoot.
2 GOT RIGHT: FLESHING OUT THE SUPPORTING CHARACTERS
In the television series, the various family members of the Addams Family household were investigated in great depth. In the '90s live-action films, time was short, and it was noticeable that even Wednesday and Puglsey took a bit of a backseat to the Gomez and Morticia show.
In this film, Gomez and Morticia definitely lead the ghoulish fun, but this is really Wednesday and Pugsley's film, where their storylines and tribulations are conveyed in greater detail. Rather ingeniously Lurch, who's always been monosyllabic, expresses himself through musical composition. Even the Addams Family home makes its own "presence" known!
1 GOT WRONG: THE REST OF THE TOWN
There's always been a bit of animosity from the outside world directed at the Addamses. They're spooky, try to cause each other physical harm, and eat plates of eyeballs. But there's never been a collection of more spiteful people directing more vitriol at their family than the town of Assimilation.
Given the town's name this makes sense, but the messages of being true to yourself and not submitting blindly to conformity get a bit swallowed up when everyone in the town is nasty and deadset against the Addams succeeding. One friend of Wednesday's appears to have a spine, but her non-conformity plotline is as abruptly cut off as the rest of Thing's arm.