CASSIDY BESSA AND DANI VAN DER HORST
The Addams Family (2019), directed by Conrad Vernon and Grey Tiernan, hit South African theatres on 11 October 2019. The computer-animated, 3D, comedy-horror is a family-friendly Halloween film. It boasts a star-studded cast, including Snoop Dogg, Charlize Theron, Finn Wolfhard and Nick Kroll. The characters are based on the Charles Addams comics of the same name. This is not the first time that the beloved characters have made it onto the screen. A live-action, television series, The Addams Family, premiered on ABC in 1964. This inspired an unrelated animated series which premiered in 1973, as well as a 1977 film of the same title. In the 1990s, the characters were revived once again and appeared in the feature films, The Addams Family (1991) and its sequel, Addams Family Values (1993). Both of these films received nominations for Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards and Hugo Awards. These adaptions are possibly the most well-known in today’s society. Subsequently, there have been a few more adaptations, but the 2019 film is the first animated feature film in The Addams Family universe.
The Charles Addams’ comics began as 150 single panel cartoons which were published in The New Yorker in 1938. This had a great influence on the public and a rise in goth subculture and fashion that was observed shortly after the cartoons were released. Originally, it was just Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsly, Uncle Fester, Grandmama, Lurch, Aristotle, Thing and cousin Itt. The television series, and then the film adaptions, introduced some more extended family members and established the complex Addams family tree that we know and love today. Charles Addams said of the cartoon, “Gomez and Pugsley are enthusiastic. Morticia is even in disposition, muted, witty sometimes deadly. Grandma Frump is foolishly good-natured. Wednesday is her mother’s daughter. A closely-knit family, the real head being Morticia – although each of the others is a definite character- except for Grandma, who is easily led. Many of the troubles have as a family are due to grandma’s fumbling, weak character. The house is a wreck, of course, but this is a house-proud family just the same and every trap door is in good repair. Money is no problem”.
Charles Addams was originally inspired by Westfield, New Jersey’s, old houses and so in the cartoons, the family lives on Cemetery Bridge. This changed in the television show and then again in the 2019 film. In the 2019 film, they live in an abandoned asylum that has its own personality and continually yells at the family to get out until Morticia gives it its morning coffee.
The 2019 film follows the family’s journey from the very beginning when Morticia and Gomez (voiced by Charlize Theron and Oscar Isaac respectively) get married and are cast out of their previous home. This “kooky”, “spooky” family grows and settles into their asylum home as the film then skips thirteen years into the future. This is where the majority of the story takes place. The film focusses on the sweet interactions that the family has with one another and challenges the representation of monsters as scary beings. Themes of acceptance, staying true to oneself and not judging other people are carried throughout the plot of the film. The Addams family, while unconventional, deal with many familiar familial issues and prove that by standing together, anything can be overcome. The film stays true to its roots and the characters bring a sense of nostalgia to the screen that true Addams fans will love.
The film has been criticised for its lighter tone, in comparison to the darker and more macabre source material and the previous adaptions. The plot is slightly predictable, as the themes remain similar to those of the television show and film adaptions, but it is enjoyable to watch, nonetheless. Unlike the television show and the 1990s film adaptions, the 2019 adaption offers a lot more visual detail. The animation is creative, and the film comes alive in 3D and through the use of incredible visual effects. The film has been praised for the voice cast, the comedic aspect it brings, as well as the fantastic animation.
The film soundtrack offers an original by Christina Aguilera titled “Haunted Heart” and also pays tribute to the iconic The Addams Family theme song in a remix titled “My Family” by Migos, Karol G, Snoop Dogg and Rock Mafia. The soundtrack is a bubbly, modern, hip-hop/pop experience and ties into the light-heartedness of the film as a whole.
The original comic has come a long way and the characters have slowly grown into more complex individuals. They are less subdued, and their personalities have become more outlandish. Despite the macabre details of their lives, the family has such a great dynamic that one cannot help but love the film.
This film can be enjoyed by die-hard Addams family fans, as well as anyone looking for a light-hearted Halloween film to watch during the spooky season. It is rated PG and is specifically aimed at a younger audience. However, this doesn’t detract from the overall appeal of the film and it is definitely worth a watch.