The Addams Family review – ooky animation can't find a heartbeat

The latest incarnation of the mysterious and spooky household, from the directors of Sausage Party, is not creepy and not kooky – it’s bland

Like taking a treasured pet to a taxidermist with disappointing results, the personality and spooky-ooky-ness of The Addams Family has been lost in this new outing directed by Sausage Party’s Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon – a mostly unfunny family film with depressingly bland character animation. There are plenty of references here to the earlier incarnations: Charles Addams’ original cartoons for the New Yorker, the 1960s TV series and the two movies from the 1990s. But this uncreepy and decidedly unkooky film is a letdown.

It’s also a waste of a killer voice cast. Charlize Theron is matriarch Morticia Addams (animated with none of the delicious vampire sexiness Anjelica Huston brought to the role). Oscar Issac is her husband Gomez, with Chloë Grace Moretz and Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard playing the kids, Wednesday and Pugsley. Home is a former lunatic asylum above a New Jersey town; down the hill, interior decorator and reality TV star Margaux (Allison Janney), a woman with the pep and hairdo of Dolly Parton, is building 50 new houses. When the Addamses refuse to spruce up their eyesore of a gothic pile, Margaux launches a hate campaign against them, mobilising the narrow-minded townspeople.

While their parents go to war, Wednesday and Margaux’s tweenage daughter become friends. As an act of rebellion against her mother, Wednesday, nicely voiced by Moretz with a bored, been-there-killed-that drawl, connects with her inner optimist. (In one of the film’s best scenes, she comes home from the mall wearing a rainbow-coloured unicorn hair clip to Morticia’s horror: “How dare you bring that into my house!”).

Everything is locked and loaded for a heartwarming finale in which outsiders and conservative locals realise that actually they have a lot in common. Without a shred of irony, the film, which is essentially about resisting the pressure to conform or change yourself, has a storyline stitched together from a dozen family films you’ve probably already seen. What’s missing is a heartbeat.

• The Addams Family is released in the UK on 25 October and in Australia on 5 December.

Contributor

Cath Clarke

The GuardianTramp

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