Flop before fame: The Addams Family isn’t as morbidly macabre as previous films

Kwoineh Haba

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They’re creepy, they’re kooky, and altogether spooky: The Addams Family returns to theaters with a new look, new actors, and a new plot.  Hoping to avoid discrimination from the public about their odd and macabre ways, Gomez and Morticia Addams raise their family in an abandoned haunted asylum for thirteen years. However, they reconsider their decision to allow their children, Wednesday and Pugsley, to attend a public school in Assimilation, New Jersey. Margaret Needler, a TV reality host appalled at the Addams’ strange behavior, makes plans to rid the town of their presence to sell 50 houses on a live-reality show. While the Addams have appealed to a wide audience, it would seem that many would debate on watching the present movie in comparison to previous film incarnations. 

“I was such a big fan of the one [show] in the eighties,” said sophomore Memphis Davis. “They had such a good production value. The new one looks like it’s going to be poorly edited.”

Moreover, others consider the movie to be a failure in capturing the dark macabre humor of the odd clan.

“So when you go to see the new digitally animated version of ‘The Addams Family’, you should be prepared for a film that has all the comic danger of a bowl of Count Chocula,” said Variety writer Owen Gleiberman. “Jokes like these provoke a mild grin of amusement. Yet if the movie really wanted to run with how the members of the Addams Family are united in their antisocial dark glee, it should have turned them into flip superstars of demonic flamboyance; it should have made them into the Indreadables.” 

Not to mention, some think that the movie jumps around to too many plot points that are left unresolved, even if the movie provided ‘meaningful life lessons’.

“Like most soft-pedaled children’s movies, the Addams family makes a vague gesture towards a meaningful life lesson- in this case, a timely lesson about the importance of recognizing other people’s humanity, regardless of their differences,” said The Verge writer Caroline Siede. “Unfortunately, The Addams Family is so bland, unfunny, and poorly structured that even the best intentions can’t elevate it.”

Siede lists a number of plot points addressed in the movie -Pugsley’s preparation for his ‘Sabre Mazurka’, or coming-of-age ceremony, Gomez and Morticia’s nervousness about rejoining the outside world, Wednesday’s enrollment in junior high school- which make up the movie’s plot, but feels less ‘like a singular narrative so much as a series of Saturday morning cartoons spliced together.’ 

Although the film attempted to incorporate some of the humor from the original comics made by Charles Addams in 1932, it was mediocre in comparison.

“[Screenwriter] Matt Lieberman’s nearly laugh-free script prefers to rehash Charles Addams’ old one-liners or offers terrible updates,” said The Hollywood Reporter writer John DeFore. “For instance: When Morticia uses thousands of spiders to create a temporary bridge across a chasm, she tells her guest, ‘We call this surfing the web’… Lieberman quickly returns to a story as predictable as all those identical houses that Needler is hawking. Fortunately, the conflict between townsfolk and our heroes plays out quickly, and should take even less time to forget.”