DIRECTORS: CONRAD VERNON, GREG TIERNAN | SCREENPLAY: MATT LIEBERMAN | STARRING: OSCAR ISAAC, CHARLIZE THERON, CHLOË GRACE MORETZ, FINN WOLFHARD, NICK KROLL, SNOOP DOGG, BETTE MIDLER, ALLISON JANNEY | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
There have been a fair few Addams Family adaptations over the years but, following a clumsy set-up, this latest entry (the first in two decades) ends up as exultantly kooky, spooky, and consequently ooky as its predecessors.
After a thirteen-year fog clears around the Addams’ hill-top home, Gomez (Isaac) and Morticia (Theron) discover a hidden, local village. The family then try blending in with the locals but are met with furrowed brows and the threat of flaming torches, pitchforks, and xenophobia. Fear of the Addams’ is further stirred by local interior designer Margaux Needler (Janney) who hopes to renovate their home so it fits in with the rest of the town.
Directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan’s (Sausage Party) revamp starts like a candy coloured cash-in, but gets darker and more interesting after its gratingly sloppy set-up. The biting wit that blessed Barry Sonnenfeld’s films is channelled via cutting dialogue nonchalantly relayed, mostly by Wednesday (Moretz). When asked if she would like to go to the mall, Wednesday replies: “why not, I haven’t been to a good mauling in ages”, while her enrolling at the local school spawns striking sub-culture clashes.
The Addams’ haunted home is also a key character, alongside a “possessed” tree called Ichabod. The family have a pet lion and a bottomless pit in the wine cellar, while scenes featuring a vampire bat and zombie frogs stain the brain. A parallel plot-line about a rites-of-passage ceremony for Pugsley (Wolfhard), collides with sub-story strands during an explosive finale. There are also a handful of horror film references to keep older genre fans happy, with nods to The Amityville Horror, It, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Bride of Frankenstein.
A running theme about accepting differences also strengthens the story alongside spiky dialogue, quirky comedy and playful plot bolstering sight gags, which make this latest Addams Family (mostly) prevail. Despite its gawky animation and first act flags, Vernon and Tiernan’s film remains side-splitting fun with PG-rated Gothic frights that should satisfy fans and viewers of all ages.