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‘The Addams Family’ clever but not quite clever enough

Scene from new “Addams Family” film now in theaters. Watch the trailer in the video above. | Courtesy photo

Dear Hollywood studios,

Would you PLEASE either make more incredibly brilliant films or more absolute dumpster fires. It’s been an incredibly mediocre year and I’m running out of ways to say “not terrible, but not great, either.”

“The Addams Family” is the latest take on Charles Addams’ icon macabre comedic characters. It opens with Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) and the rest of the Addams clan being driven out by angry villagers. They settle in an abandoned asylum in New Jersey and life seems good.

Jump to thirteen years later and the Addams’ find themselves planning Mazurka festivities for son Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard). Meanwhile, daughter Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz) is discovering the world beyond the Addams family’s front gate and home makeover show host Margeaux Needler (Allison Janney) threatens to drive them out for being “monsters.”

This isn’t bad. It’s actually fairly clever in spots, with visual gags that elicits chuckles and the brisk pacing prevents viewers from getting too bored. The scene where Wednesday goes all Dr. Frankenstien in a junior high classroom is inspired. Lurch works so well and is so lovable, he makes the cliched scene where he sings with an unexpectedly angelic voice forgivable.

The voice work is top-notch as well. Isaac and Theron are outstanding, but the real highlight is Moretz, who perfectly captures the blase, insouciant attitude of Wednesday. Shout outs also have to be given to Janney and Snoop Dog, who voices Cousin It. Janney unhinged and diabolical as Margeaux while just knowing the Snoop is the voice of It makes that character about 40 percent more funny.

Unfortunately, for every good quality “The Addams Family” has, it has an equally unfortunate flaw. The story about the weird people winning over their more normal neighbors has been done to death and much better than it is here.

The theme is to be about being comfortable with who you are. That’s integral to the plot strand where Wednesday begins to embrace the customs of her friends and starts to change. Yet, we don’t see her realize how cool and special her family is, so that message of self-acceptance gets undercut.

There’s also lazy, hackneyed writing and characters and an overall feeling that this movie could use more creepy, more kooky, and a lot more altogether ooky. The result is a film that has moments of excellence, but ultimately underwhelms.

As a vehicle to introduce a new generation to these characters, “The Addams Family” is a solid effort that will probably keep the little ones entertained. But this movie is too mediocre and unmemorable to make much of an impression, and Charles Addams’ family deserves better.

Yours truly,

Adam Forsgren

2 ½ Indy Fedoras out of 5

MPAA Rating: PG


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