The Addams Family ★★★

A cute family reunion that’s not dark enough for these Gothic weirdos.

Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan’s animated black comedy The Addams Family (2019) is a fairly funny family movie that most will be entertained by, but it doesn’t go dark enough for this infamous clan of Goths. The Addams Family is a beloved brand to me, so I was willing to give this new take on the iconic Gothic strangers a chance. I enjoyed this modern movie for what it is, but it should have revelled in the night more if you know what I mean.

Vernon and Tiernan’s direction is brisk at playful with a charming tone, but it feels saccharine compared to past grim incarnations of The Addams Family. I did like Vernon’s voice for the lumbering butler and talented organist Lurch though. They have so many references to pop culture, Goth culture, and other Addams Family lore that I appreciate, but as much of Matt Lieberman’s writing that works, some of it feels like it’s just there for contemporary children viewers, who have no attachment to this bleak franchise anyways. Charles Addams’ macabre characters are remembered for their dark humor, not their adorable look and I think some of that black humor is present here in The Addams Family’s strongest jokes. However, The Addams Family needs a haunting atmosphere instead of a chipper mood.

David Ian Salter and Kevin Pavlovic’s editing is quickly paced and tightly cut for a pleasant 86 minutes. They could have cut some of the brighter infantile humor and kept the more mature black comedy aspects and jokes. Kyle McQueen nails the old school Gothic look for his Addams Family production design. Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna’s score is a bittersweet offering of old themes made new. The dark Addams Family vibe is there, but the Danna’s add nothing new to the Addams Family with their music.

I am torn about the look of the CGI animation. I prefer lovingly crafted hand drawn animation, so the ugly CGI characters and too pristine motion doesn’t work for me. The Addams Family characters look like Charles Addams’ old cartoon designs, but shined over with that oval sleek look of Illumination’s animated style I just loathe. It’s just too cute instead of creepy or Goth. The animation is creative and fun to watch, but it misses the mark for the overall aesthetic.

The Addams Family does feature a killer cast of kooky voice actors. Oscar Isaac captures Gomez’ vibrant playfulness, yet misses some of his constant romancing of Morticia. Charlize Theron gives a sultry vampiress voice for her Morticia Addams. I just wish there was more of Morticia here. Chloe Grace Moretz is perfectly deadpan as the Goth torturess Wednesday Addams in a wonderfully sadistic casting choice. I honestly think they should have made a live action since this cast all could look like the Gothic icons The Addams Family.

Finn Wolfhard is pretty lively in a memorable role as Pugsley Addams. Nick Kroll is really funny as the expressive and undead Uncle Fester. Allison Janney is excellent as the home remodeler villainess and plastic woman Margaux Needler. Elsie Fisher has a very cute and expressive voice for Parker Needler that I think is an apt foil for Wednesday’s dour tone.

Snoop Dogg has a fun appearance as Cousin It while “Drop It Like It’s Hot” blasts, but they didn’t even use his instantly recognizable voice, instead opting to reverse It’s dialogue for a weird effect. Bette Midler is spry as Grandmama with a few crazy bits. Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara are wonderful as Grandpa and Grandma Frump, but it’s too short of a cameo for my taste. Tituss Burgess might as well have not been in this as he gets few lines as Glenn. Aimee Garcia lends her lovely voice for Denise, but is not given enough lines like Tituss. Pom Klementieff has a cute cameo as Layla and Kayla too.

In conclusion, The Addams Family is a fast family movie full of cunning animated gags and quirky humor, but should have leaned into The Addams Family’s black humor more since that’s what they’re beloved for in the first place.