DirectorConrad Vernon, Greg Tiernan
Release Date(s)2019 (January 21, 2020)
Studio(s)United Artists/MGM (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: D+
The Addams Family has been a mainstay in popular culture for decades, beginning with the original Charles Addams cartoons, continuing with the iconic 1960s TV series, moving forward with the mostly forgotten 1973 animated series, and more or less halting as a franchise in the 1990s with the live action films. 2019’s The Addams Family welcomes the creepy and kooky family into the feature-length animated world for the first time, but with mixed results.
Upon the eve of their wedding, Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) are driven from their home by an angry mob of villagers, with Grandmama (Bettle Midler), Fester (Nick Kroll), and Thing helping them escape. Along their route they discover escaped mental patient Lurch (Conrad Vernon), whom they take in after moving into an abandoned asylum nearby. Years later, they have two children, Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard) and Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz), two mischievous kids with a penchant for chaos. Wednesday is becoming curious about the outside world, looking beyond the fog banks of their property, particularly at the community below. Gomez is struggling with preparing Pugsley for the upcoming Mazurka ceremony, which will be judged by the rest of the family, including Cousin Itt (Snoop Dogg) and Great Auntie Sloom (Jenifer Lewis). Morticia becomes distracted with the sudden change in Wednesday, even turning to her dead parents (Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara) for guidance. In the town below, the perfection-seeking Margaux (Allison Janney) aims to sell this “perfect” community on her reality TV show, and the Addams Family are on the chopping block of parts of the neighborhood that must go.
What The Addams Family maintains, as with all previous iterations of the characters, is a sense of macabre fun, where the unorthodox is not only the status quo, but even humdrum at times. Wednesday attempting to bury her brother alive and Pugsley setting off explosives are just everyday, mundane things, and the film reflects that darkly comedic side well enough. Its failings come from its story and its voice cast. Oscar Isaac, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Allison Janney pull off surprisingly effective performances, but the majority of the rest of the cast is merely passable. Charlize Theron is not suited for the role of Morticia at all, coming off as snobbish instead of the sexy and mysterious character we’ve come to know in previous adaptations.
The story itself is the cookie cutter “everybody’s different and we should all be more accepting” fodder that we’ve see many times over. In the world of the Addams Family, this doesn’t seem appropriate. Previously, characters outside of the family were taken aback, even horrified, by what they found inside the Addams household. This film attempts to capture some of that flavor, albeit fleetingly, but it never quite succeeds. That said, there’s still something charming about any adaptation of The Addams Family that’s always worth watching, especially in animated form. The animation itself is enjoyable, but this version borders on mediocre overall.
2019’s The Addams Family was animated digitally by Cinesite Studios and Nitrogen Studios and finished as (what one can assume was) a 2K Digital Intermediate with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Universal Pictures brings the film to Blu-ray with a nice-looking presentation, likely sourced from that same DI. The results are mostly positive with high levels of detail, although minor banding creeps in from time to time, as well as odd bits of pixelation. Wednesday’s hair in one shot is definitely guilty of this. Textures are decent, particularly on the Addams’ house, but the neighborhood below is smooth and perfect, likely by design. The color palette is strong with bold swatches of blue, purple, green, and pink, among others. Blacks are a little lighter than they should be, but shadow detail is commendable. A 4K presentation might have ironed out some of these kinks, but as is, it’s still a reasonably potent picture. Sadly, the 3D version is absent as well.
Audio is included in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 7.1 DTS-HD, French 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, and English 2.0 Descriptive Video Service. Optional subtitles include English SDH, Spanish, and French. Though an Atmos track would likely send this soundtrack over the top in terms of quality, the 7.1 DTS-HD alternative is certainly no slouch. Prioritization for the varied sound effects, including both atmospheric and explosive moments, are given careful placement in every speaker, including the overheads. Everything is rich and full with boisterous low end support. Dialogue exchanges are clear and precise, and the score and music selection assist the overall soundtrack dutifully.
The following extras are included, all in HD:
- Deleted and Extended Scenes: Joan of Arc (1:08)
- Deleted and Extended Scenes: The Truant Officer (1:49)
- Deleted and Extended Scenes: Pugsley Bee Beard (2:18)
- Deleted and Extended Scenes: Assimilate (:58)
- Charades with Thing (3:32)
- Life of a Scene (3:22)
- Welcome to the Family (6:03)
- Addams Family Throwback (1:05)
- Haunted Heart Lyric Video (2:50)
- My Family Lyric Video (1:05)
The extras encompass roughly 24 minutes and 10 seconds worth of material. The Deleted and Extended Scenes were cut during the storyboard and layout processes before lighting and final animation, and they include Wednesday putting various historical figures to death via her dolls, Pugsley trapping a truant officer who informs the family about public school, Gomez and Fester demonstrating various Mazurka techniques for Pugsley, and Fester working at the coffee shop. Charades with Thing is a short but enjoyable bonus game featuring several rounds with Thing. Life of a Scene demonstrates the four stages of animation by an unknown narrator. Welcome to the Family and Addams Family Throwback speaks to the main cast, directors, and some of the crew about the film, the latter featurette speaking more about the original Charles Addams cartoons. Last are two lyric videos, one for the song Haunted Heart by Christina Aguilera and My Family by Migos, Karol G, Rock Mafia, and Snoop Dogg. None of this material is that substantial outside of the deleted scenes.
The disc sits inside a standard blue amaray case with a DVD copy of the film and a paper insert with a Digital code on it. Initial pressings also include a slipcover.
As a whole, 2019’s The Addams Family is fairly mediocre, despite the excellent animation and sound design. A story not directly involving with the outside world but the family itself would have been far more intriguing, but perhaps less appealing to a general populace. Would it have hurt the film’s chances at the box office? Not likely. It seemed to do well despite what the content actually was. Instead, The Addams Family goes the safe route, skirting the edges of what these characters are all about, but never fully understanding them at all. The Blu-ray offers a nice presentation, but 4K and 3D versions are sorely missed.
- Tim Salmons