The Addams Family animated film tries to capitalize on the silly strangeness of the original classic television series, but it never fully realizes its potential. The movie is trying to promote acceptance, but it falls short. Either through the spooky Addams, or an unhappy daughter trying to get attention from her mother, the film could have been incredibly timely in its themes of acceptance and the importance of cultural exchange but, again, fails.
Created by cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938, the franchise has a long legacy of horror-based comedy. The biting commentary on reality television in this version makes for some really great comedy as well. A villain from the neighboring town Assimilate, voiced well by Allison Janney, works for a real estate show not unlike many I've watched as a guilty pleasure like Love It or List it. This combination of cultural commentary and horror comedy would work if the performances were a little bit more accessible, but unfortunately they are not.
Charlize Theron voices Morticia, the mother of the Addams family, a clan known primarily for their adoration of the terrible, the odd, and the uncomfortable. Unable to find a home elsewhere the family moves to one place to find their haven of odd: New Jersey. Theron's overly theatrical performance was difficult to buy into and left me missing the original show's handling of Morticia.
Chloë Grace Moretz is daughter Wednesday Addams and her performance is a way for us to connect with the family, but I often winced at the stiffness of Moretz's delivery. It requires an incredibly light touch to manage the comedy of the absurd and her performance isn't always on par with the original show.
The animation, however, is one of the high points of the film. It conveys the aesthetic of the Addams Family in a way that would not have been possible in any other format. The strangeness is accentuated in an almost Tim Burton-esque style, although utilizing more modern three-dimensional digital modeling. The animation allows the eccentricity to be pushed further visually to create some genuinely funny moments.
The voice acting hamstrings the film and, in spite of many things working well in the film, I wasn't sold on The Addams Family as something we care about and admire. The strange is a core part of The Addams Family as a franchise, but in this rendition it feels stiff and bland.