The most chilling thing about this latest adaptation of the cartoons of Charles Addams is that when you read the cast list, your heart breaks for what a live-action adaptation this could have been. That being said, the animation pays due homage to the original cartoons and the film starts with an encouraging amount of dark wit and subversive innuendo.
Fleeing from a disgruntled mob of villagers, newlyweds Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) Addams happen upon the perfect fixer-upper starter home: an abandoned asylum. As the years pass and their family grows, they remain blissfully unaware of the suburban development which has sprung up around them but when the mists clear, the town’s busybody home improvement show hosting leader sets her sights on ridding her community of the Addams once and for all.
Given the loyal recreation of the original character designs and the delicious voice cast assembled, it’s slightly disappointing that they’re deployed in service of a story which plays out like the reanimated corpse of “Hotel Transylvania”. It’s not that there aren’t good, sly gags or amusingly macabre touches here and there but it just never feels like it has that decrepit chicness that the best versions of The Addams Family have all had. Too much of the film is bright and breezily colourful, far too sugary for a family more fond of cyanide.
Properties like “The Addams Family” always face challenges when trying to expand to a feature-length story given their short-form conception but it does feel like this particular story of ‘who are the real monsters?’ has been done too many times before. With a sequel already on the way, it’s to be hoped this excellent cast get to raise their game the way the live-action 90s cast did but I don’t envy them the challenge: Christina Ricci’s Wednesday casts a very big shadow, one too dark even for this animated Addams Family to ever step out of.