Sunday, 1 December 2019

The Addams Family by Lieberman, Addams et al

 I've virtually stopped going to animated movies but I was lured back into the cinema for this one because of my love the for black and white 1960s TV series, and indeed the original (non-animated) cartoons by Charles Addams which inspired this whole shebang.

One of the great things about the TV series was that it was the only show on American television depicting a marriage that was both happy and passionate — Gomez just couldn't get enough of Morticia. ("Tish, that French! Cara mia!")

It also had a fabulous theme song and a great soundtrack by the wondrous Vic Mizzy.  ("They're creepy and they're kooky, altogether spooky...")

Well the new animated version has completely lost the passion between Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron). But at least it keeps the theme song.

The movie has a lot of good gags, such as the one featuring Thing, a disembodied male hand, who is caught watching pornography on his computer — naked, disembodied female feet.

And it has a fine cast, especially Chloë Grace Moret, whose understated deadpan, malevolent performance as spoonfaced, spooky Wednesday is just a scream.
 
What the movie doesn't have is a decent script. 

It begins with an origin story, the Addams clan fleeing persecution by a mob of torch wielding old villagers in Europe to take up residence in America. 

(There's a nice gag later on where a mob of modern American villagers come after them bearing cell phones with images of burning torches on them.)

Thereafter the movie settles down to focus exclusively on a story concerning each of the children. 

This is basically a fatal mistake. For a start it completely sidelines Morticia and Gomez, the mum and dad. 
 
I guess the thinking, if you can call it that, is that this is an animated movie aimed at children, so it should be about children.

Which is nonsense, of course. After all, the Toy Story films are about the toys, not the kids who own them

Anyway, the boy Pugley is given an incredibly dull rite of passage / coming of age plot. Enough said about that.

Meanwhile, Wednesday fares rather better as we follow her decision to attend the local school with the normal kids. 

This leads to the best scene in the film where she disrupts a biology class by bringing the dissected frogs back to life.It's a genuinely terrific sequence and very funny, featuring a nice nod to The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 version).
 
Afterwards, as Wednesday walks out of the school with her very impressed new friends they invite her to "Come to the mall." Wednesday diffidently agrees. "I haven't been to a good mauling in ages."

But we never go to the mall with her. Which is a huge missed opportunity. And indeed we never again reach the heights of the biology class scene. The movie has peaked.

There's a lot of business about a TV makeover star and property developer (Allison Janney) which features a lazy swipe from the plot for Ira Levin's Sliver. It's not great...

But the animation is great, there are some nice gags, Moretz as Wednesday is a hoot.

And the more cryptic lyrics to that Vic Mizzy theme song have finally been deciphered for me ("Put a witch's shawl on, there's a broomstick you can crawl on...")

(Image credits: Many creepy, kooky posters at Imp Awards.)

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