The Addams Family (Greg Tiernan/Conrad Vernon, 2019, Canada/USA)

            The Addams Family is a serviceable bit of family fun that has a good time with the original property without necessarily transcending the material. Directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, known mainly for their work on the 2016 adult animation Sausage Party, this adaptation generally plays it safe – aside from a few edgy jokes here and there. Altogether it may be more stimulating for kids than anyone who has an affection or nostalgia for the original series, although the characters we’re familiar with are all given ample screen time.
            The plot of the film – involving a TV star designer attempting to fix up the Addams family’s house in an effort to sell houses in a neighborhood – echoes Edward Scissorhands. Wednesday Addams begins to get curious about what exists beyond the Addams estate, and forms a friendship with the designer’s daughter. The visual contrast between the gothic Addams estate and the cartoonishly bright and plastic town is played well. Generally the visual gags are well-executed.
            The storyline generally plays it safe – perhaps too safe. We learn that the real monsters are often not who they seem to be, and that just because someone is different doesn’t mean we should hate them. I also had the sense that the film did not want to go out of its way too much too scare or offend. There are some great possibilities with the setting and characters that are left on the table. Instead we are treated to a guest appearance from Snoop Dogg. This is where perhaps the film would have rested better in the hands of a director like Burton. Overall this adaptation could have been a bit livelier, a bit funnier, and a bit spookier – but as it stands it is a perfectly diverting hour and a half of kids’ entertainment.



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