I cannot imagine what led MGM to expect this intellectual property to resurge in 2019, but The Addams Family stays as unnecessary as it has been since the release of The Addams Family Values in 1993. The directors are seasoned in animatic storytelling, with Conrad Vernon directing the very successful Shrek 2 with Andrew Adamson and Kelly Asbury. This picture falls indelicately flat for many reasons, however, beginning with the Addams family itself.
The character design in this movie is quite ugly, and borderline uncanny (especially Wednesday). It would make sense in this universe for the characters to be disturbing to look at if there were any redeeming qualities with the way they were animated. The motion is erratic and uncomfortable– swift and always missing the natural mark. Even extra-bodied walk cycles look off. Cartoons moving in a photo-realistic space rarely works well without masterful execution of every aspect of the animating process. Among these: lighting.
The lighting in The Addams Family is not dynamic, it is bland, and at its best feels borrowed. When depicting the macabre, a heavy contrast might be expected between spaces and subjects in the three-dimensional space, but most scenes are lit quite the same way. Scenes with a specific lighting gimmick, like the reference to Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, still feel bland and unrealized. The consistent product is a washed-out grey, that pervades even when the atmosphere is meant to be bright and, in a word, happy.
Thematically this movie is not very filling. It is a wholesome story about love and acceptance against the norms of society, but leaves the audience wanting more. This theme has been beaten to death in recent animated films, and was far better delivered in 2018’s Smallfoot. The writing was no greater than decent save the few especially well-executed movie references throughout. The story was a bit of a mess in the linear sense, and tons of one-liners fell out without a bit of heart, making the movie much less funny than it should be.
The Addams Family also speaks to the horrifying death of voice talent as a specialization. The cast is full of A-list screen actors, and with the exception of Oscar Isaac as Gomez and Chloe Grace Mortez as Wednesday, the performances were supremely subpar. Charlize Theron’s attempt at an accent had many noticeable slips that broke the suspension of disbelief. Putting screen actors as talent in big-budget animated film is a trend that moviegoers would love to see vanquished entirely.
Making an animated movie is difficult (I quite revere theatrical animators) and I would never dream of saying I could make a better film. Like all Hollywood pictures, there is also a pipeline– an assembly– that puts the movie together. It can be difficult for many studios to make a cohesive product because of the massive teams that work on them. I think that is the chief problem with The Addams Family, a lost connection to the audience. It is clear that despite this there was passion invested into the movie, and some of that heart is present on screen at odd times. For this reason, and all those stated above, I give The Addams Family a 1.5 out of 5.