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The Addams Family (2019)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/21/2020

All Ratings out of

Movie: 1/2




Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/13/2020

It can be interesting to examine media entities which have endured for generations.  Charles Addams began drawing cartoons which depicted a macabre family in the late 1930s, which the illustrations running in publications like The New Yorker.  In 1964, an iconic television series, The Addams Family premiered on ABC.  Following this, the early 70s saw animated shows featuring the ghastly clan.  The characters came back into the limelight in the 1990s with two feature films, The Addams Family and Addams Family Values.  Now, after a long dormant spell, the Addams are back in the animated feature The Addams Family.  Is a new generation ready to embrace these characters?

As The Addams Family opens, we meet newlywed Gomez (voiced by Oscar Isaacs) and Morticia (voiced by Charlize Theron) who are forced to flee their European home due to torch wielding villagers.  They settle in to an abandoned asylum in New Jersey along with their newly-found butler, Lurch (voiced by Conrad Vernon).  The story then leaps ahead and we see that the family has been rounded out by Wednesday (voiced by Chloe Grace Moretz) and Pugsley (voiced by Finn Wolfhard).  The latter’s coming-of-age ceremony (“The Mazurka”) is imminent and Gomez’s brother, Fester (voiced by Nick Kroll), has come to help.  Meanwhile, beneath the fog which surrounds the Addams’ home, Margaux Needler (voiced by Allison Janney) has designed a pastel town for her home improvement television show.  When she learns of the Addams, she feels that they may wreck her show, and therefore, must go.

So, yes, The Addams Family is back and it’s clearly being aimed at…kids?  To prove just how confused this movie is, simply look at the directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon who previously collaborated on the decidedly adult animated film Sausage Party.  Prior to that, Tiernan helmed multiple episodes of Thomas & Friends, while Vernon directed the likes of Shrek 2 and Monsters Vs. Aliens.  As you can see, those are decidedly different projects.  And it’s obvious that the two filmmakers attempted to merge their previous works into this movie, as we get an animated movie which ostensibly is made for families, but includes some very dark and macabre humor at times.  Of course, we should expect that sort of thing from any Addams Family project, and there’s no doubt that a wicked sense of humor was the driving force behind the live-action films of the 90s.  (Any movie which contains a song with the refrain “Eat me!” is clearly playing for an older audience.)  But, things feel uneven here, as we will get a scene filled with somewhat mundane material which will be punctuated with a moment which makes you utter, “Wait, can they say that?”

That aside, this iteration of The Addams Family doesn’t do much to separate itself from the pack.  When the family first appeared almost 90 years ago and later on with the 60s television series, this sort of goth and gallows humor felt unique.  However, following years of Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network shows which skew decidedly weird, The Addams Family seems very tame.  Wednesday may have been the original Hot Topic girl, but she comes across as all too familiar now. Using the host of an HGTV-like show as the villain was a nice idea, but the movie hits a big plothole when Margaux announces that she wants to build a town…for a town which is already full of people.  What?  The movie also acts as if the audience is familiar with the family, but given that the target audience wasn’t alive when the last film debuted, this seems like a miscalculation.

Perhaps as someone who has witnessed so many incarnations of the characters in the past, I’m being too hard on The Addams Family.  In the grand scheme, this isn’t a bad movie.  The character design is interesting, as some of it harkens back to Addams original sketches, and the bizarre humor does produce some funny moments.  The “be yourself” lesson featured here may not be original, but given the decidedly independent nature of the Addams, it does ring true.  If I were going to introduce the Addams to a new generation, I would still turn to the live-action movies, but this Addams Family is still worth visiting.

The Addams Family completes its checklist of stereotypes by showing that middle school is hell on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.  The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps.  The colors look very good, as the transfer nicely balances the darkness of the Addams’ house with the pastels of the town.  The level of details is excellent and we can see the work which went into the animation, while the depth gives the movie a quasi-3D look.  The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps.  The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects.  There are many moments where the camera flies though the house or the town, and these scenes deliver impressive surround sound effects which contains distinct sounds.  The subwoofer effects also work well given the thuds and crashes in the film.

The Addams Family Blu-ray Disc contains a few extra features.  We start with four DELETED AND EXTENDED SCENES which run about 6 minutes.  These are a combination of animatic animation and storyboards.  “Charades with Thing” (4 minutes) is a little game featuring the famous hand.  “Life of a Scene” (3 minutes) walks us through the various elements which go into making an animated films from storyboards to layout to animation to lighting.  “Welcome to the Family” (6 minutes) has Co-Directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon and Producer Alison O’Brien kicking off a brief featurette which gives an overview of the film.  We hear from the voice actors who describe their characters.  Addams Family Throwback” (1 minute) looks at the history of the characters and offers some of the old Addams cartoons.  Lastly, we have two “Lyric Videos” for the songs “Haunted Heart” and “My Family”.

Review Copyright 2020 by Mike Long