"The Addams Family" still creepy, kooky and all together ooky

The mildly macabre “Addams Family” has been entertaining people on TV and movie screens for half a century, or much longer if you go back to its edgier 1937 roots in the New Yorker: Creator Charles Addams (who married his third wife in a pet cemetery) drew 1,300 cartoons for the magazine up to his death in 1988, by which time he was internationally revered as “the Grandaddy of Goth.”

Now comes the feature-length animated film version of Addams' ghoulish but very loving and bonded family, forced to relocate in a predictably decrepit castle in an appropriately horrible place — New Jersey.

Directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, with screenwriter Matt Lieberman, have concocted a plot for our creepy misfits centering on young son Pugsley’s performance of the clan’s time-honored mazurka-sword display — a kind of bar (with bats) mitzvah and rite of passage. Working against Pugsley and his family is uber-suburban realtor queen Margaux (voiced by Allison Janney), whose Design Intervention program espouses a makeover of the whole town of Assimilation.




  • Starring: Voices of: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler.
  • Rating: PG.

Margaux, whose Big Hair has its own zip code, wants to make everyone and every house in Assimilation the same. She puts out nasty Internet bots of disinformation against the Addams “freaks” and ultimately ends up attacking them with boulder-hurling catapults.

Meanwhile, stone-faced daughter Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) opts for a junior high experience at Assimilation Middle School, over the objections of mama Morticia (Charlize Theron). “Would you deprive me of the opportunity to torment children of my own age?” Wednesday asks.

Morticia relents. Devoted hubby Gomez (Oscar Isaac) supports. Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) kibitzes. Grandma (Bette Midler) shows up, as does the unintelligible “It” (Snoop Dogg).

And there’s the ever-Helping Hand  —“Thing” — who facilitates things, when not surreptitiously indulging a foot fettish on his laptop.

The “human” characters have long, funny stick-like legs, and the women all glide along nicely. Particularly well drawn and rendered is Lurch (Conrad Vernon)  — “You rang?” More sophisticated laughs include a brief refrain of Fred Rogers’ “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” played during Margaux’s open-house showcase.

But I can’t help feeling (and saying) that the 1991 live-action version — with Anjelica Huston as Morticia, Raul Julia as Gomez, Christopher Lloyd as Fester, and Christina Ricci as Wednesday was better and much funnier.

FYI: The original 1964-1966 TV series with Carolyn Jones and John Astin coincided with another oddball family who arrived on TV doorsteps that same season: "The Munsters." But what the Addamses had over the Munsters” — then and now — was the heartfelt love between Gomez and Morticia, and a family that really seemed to care about all its members.

“Addams Family” fare and franchise, like those characters, evidently never die.

Post-Gazette film critic emeritus Barry Paris can be reached at parispg48@aol.com.

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