My first thought when learning that an animated Addams Family was hitting the big screen around Halloween was, “What a great idea!” The only problem is that any new Addams Family reboot would have a whole crypt’s worth of excellent previous versions to live up to.
First came the New Yorker cartoons. Then came the iconic and endearing 1960s TV show. Then the marvelous live-action versions of the early 1990s. And finally, now playing, the animated edition.
For the uninitiated (probably anyone under 30), The Addams Family takes its inspiration from classic Hollywood horror films. It has a unique premise: what if those creepy and kooky characters were a family living in modern-day suburbia?
More sophisticated than The Munsters, the 1960s Addams Family was really quite subversive in its own way. The same message repackaged for 2019 doesn’t have quite the same power to unsettle society.
I think, like the recent animated The Grinch, the filmmakers of The Addams Family didn’t want it to be too scary. As a parent, for the sake of the group of girls I was chaperoning, I was relieved that overall The Addams Family was tame. But in the filmmakers’ concern about not being too frightening, they forgot to inject the healthy dose of sly humor.
The housing development of “Assimilation” that the Addams family accidentally find themselves in is really on the nose. The misfit theme of not fitting in to cookie cutter surroundings has played itself out in numerous kids’ films lately. As much as I love that theme, it is becoming a bit formulaic.
But the message of “it’s okay to be different” is always a good one for us to hear. It’s sad but true that every generation needs reminding of it.
We love these characters, and it’s nice to see them brought back to life for an encore, even if it could have been infused with a bit more originality. Allison Janney’s villainess Margaux Needler is a bouffant-load of fun. For a kid-friendly Halloween activity, this works.