This (re)animation kicks off with the Addams clan getting chased out of town by a pitchfork-wielding mob and looking for somewhere ‘horrible and corrupt’ to settle. They opt for New Jersey. It’s one of the few decent gags (for Americans, at least) in an animated comedy that’s hardly overflowing with the macabre wit that made Barry Sonnenfeld’s ‘The Addams Family’ and ‘Addams Family Values’ such ghoulish delights back in the ‘90s. Despite the stellar voice cast, its celebration of misunderstood outsiderdom is too generic to amount to much more than a bargain-basement ‘Despicable Me’ – the franchise it’s trying to emulate.
For Charles Addams purists, the characters’ looks – the pencil-thin Morticia (voiced by Charlize Theron), the roly-poly Gomez (Oscar Isaac), teardrop-faced Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) – are dead faithful to his original New Yorker cartoons. But that nicely antique feel quickly gets washed away by the cheap-looking CG animation. The story isn’t much more sophisticated. It involves persecution from the nearby ultra-conformist town of Assimilation (geddit), a scheming home improvement TV star (Allison Janney) and for Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard), a folk-dancing rite of passage involving a sword.
Co-directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon (‘Sausage Party’) find a neat way to introduce the theme song and have some fun with the family’s haunted asylum-cum-mansion (Morticia feeds it morning coffee via the loo), but by this iconic family’s standards, there’s a real shortage of snap.