“The Addams Family” (2019) Should’ve Stayed in the Grave

Raina Carfaro, Contributing Writer

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“The Addams Family” (2019) was neither kooky nor spooky, and I am altogether disappointed. Previous Addams Family installments have always been entertaining for all ages, but the new movie falls flat in entertaining people over the age of five. It lacks in substance and meaning, and despite some charming details, the juvenile humor is uncharacteristic of the usually witty and universally appealing family.

Right off the bat, the movie seems charming. Urn ash as eyeshadow, a corset that had to be wrenched tighter, braids with nooses at the ends, and bashing New Jersey. What more could you ask for? These little details hinted that perhaps the movie would be able to catch the Addams’ spirit in 3D animation. I would be wrong. 

The animation design is supposed to be modeled after the original cartoon strip from the late 1930s, but ends up being a bizarre goth version of a cross between Jimmy Neutron and The Lorax. The members of the family each seem to have their own animation style which might work if they weren’t all pictured together. Wednesday looks like a bowling pin, and loses her demented and unique sense of humor. She ends up boring in the film, which tries too hard to make her a melancholy teen to cut and paste into the meaningless plot. 

Lurch, Pugsley, and Grandmama have great designs but yet again lack cohesion with one another. Gomez and Morticia are supposed to be the perfect couple, but the potential of their relationship is completely overshadowed by the fact that Gomez looks like a strange frog. The townspeople in the film are somehow even uglier than the Addams. The only benefits of animating the Addams Family is that it allows for liberties to be taken with demented slapstick comedy. Previous Addams films have been limited by live action effects, but this movie is able to depict the grotesqueries of the Addams without scarring too many children. However, they could have gone even further with the macabre elements and lost out on the excellent opportunity that animation provided.

The plot is simple, predictable, and altogether lacks depth. The story seemed to just vomit back at the audience the same messages that have been presented in other movies for years. The moral of the story (and boy is it obvious) is to be yourself and don’t feel the need to assimilate. This isn’t a bad moral by any means, but it is extremely shallow and doesn’t mark up to other children’s films these days which not only boast extraordinary storytelling, but also beautiful and unique animation. 

Of course not every movie can be fantastic, it’s just disappointing that this movie had to fall into the same category of “meh” along the likes of “Despicable Me 3.” The movie attempts to tell the coming of age for both Wednesday and Pugsley, but ends up causing Wednesday to fall into the exhaustingly overdone depiction of a bratty teenage girl. The antagonistic girls who Wednesday interacts with in the outside world lack any character depth whatsoever, in favor of the tiresome depiction of a one dimensional blonde mean girl. Add to this an overdone message of demonizing cellphones and what we have is an unoriginal plot with some pop culture references and a few funny one-liners.

Now the movie isn’t all bad. Nothing is. It has an interesting subplot that actually depicts the Addams as refugees from the “Old World”, and contains some far and apart messages about immigration and cultural assimilation. In his coming of age ceremony, Pugsly reads from a demonic book that is a sort of demented reference to the Torah, and all of his family has come from the Old Country for his big day. This could be a fantastic and pertinent interpretation of the Addams storyline for a modern day audience, but the subtleties fall flat and end up going nowhere in the end. 

There is immense potential in translating the Addams Family to animation, but in the end the movie’s ugly animation, shallow and predictable plot, and lack of ability to capture the spirit of the family ended up with this movie being disappointing and only worth watching if you don’t have to pay for it.