When you normalize the Addams family, you ruin the Addams family.
And that’s what happened in the animated venture that still bears the name, “The Addams Family.”
For a good third of the film, we get introductions, tours and slight parlor tricks before the plot shows up. Then, a design guru named Margaux Needler (voiced by Allison Janney) realizes the Addams home is an eyesore for folks hoping to live in a planned community called Assimilation. There’s supposed to be a huge outcry against folks who stand out but, quickly, residents realize the Addamses actually fit in. End of story.
Sure, there’s a subplot with Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard) prepping for an Addams-level bar mitzvah but it never rises to a level of interest.
Instead, this is a lot of visual stuff that borrows heavily from the original TV series.
Needler – the new wild card – is both reality star and conniving entrepreneur. You know directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon are attempting to comment on something but they don’t outwardly say it. Instead, “The Addams Family” exists in a very gray world where even Charles Addams’ humor is watered down.
Wednesday (nicely voiced by Chloe Grace Moretz) strikes up a friendship with Needler’s daughter and finds common ground. There’s a good song about blending in and a lot of work for Thing to do.
But when Lurch starts playing pop tunes on the organ, you wonder if a committee didn’t throw out ideas just to see what might fit – or fill.
At the end of the show, there’s a sing-along to the TV theme show, but it’s so tacked on you don’t really want to bother.
An animated “Addams Family” should have borrowed ideas from the original magazine cartoons and, perhaps, copied their look. An early idea – to do this in stop-motion animation – might have been good, too.
But resembling umpteen films without a specific eye is like sitting through Popeye cartoons until you can get to “Scooby-Doo.” There’s no real pull.
Janney emerges as a good voice artist; Oscar Isaac is an OK Gomez. And Charlize Theron is never more than Charlize Theron as Morticia.
Rather than buy the franchise, producers should have insisted on a better premise. That, alone, could have given this two snaps up.