A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Addams Family is the latest take on the popular characters who've already been the subject of cartoons, a classic TV show, and two early '90s movies. It's not quite as macabre as its live-action predecessors, but there's still plenty of dark humor, an emphasis on violence and weapons, and incidents when townsfolk raise arms against the eerie Addamses. Insult language includes words like "freaks," "monsters," and "lemmings," as well as a few Addams family spins on endearments or encouragements (like "do your worst" and "kick your father goodnight"). As always, Gomez (voiced by Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) are presented as caring parents who are very much in love; the movie also promotes acceptance, teamwork, and empathy. Chloe Grace Moretz and Finn Wolfhard co-star as Addams children Wednesday and Pugsley.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
THE ADDAMS FAMILY begins with a young Morticia (voiced by Charlize Theron) and Gomez (Oscar Isaac) getting married in the Old Country in front of friends and family. But an angry mob of villagers interrupts, driving the clan out of what's presumably Eastern Europe. The newlyweds and their servant, Thing (a sentient severed hand), decide to flee to New Jersey and take up residence in an abandoned asylum for the criminally insane. Gomez and Morticia proceed to raise their two children, Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz) and Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard). As a family rite of passage approaches for Pugsley, the Addamses -- who are quite secluded in their mansion -- must deal with their neighbors down the hill, where home improvement guru Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) has designed a planned community called "Assimilation." She wants the creepy family to redecorate or vacate.
Is it any good?
With its star-studded voice cast and name recognition, audiences will expect more laughs -- or frights -- from this unremarkable reboot of the legendary macabre comedy. Unfortunately, The Addams Family's storyline about obsessively controlling home-improvement Margaux creating a cookie-cutter community is bland and underwhelming. Wednesday's foray into junior high, where she befriends Margaux's daughter, Parker (Elsie Fisher), starts off promisingly but quickly falls flat with predictable antics. Yes, there are a few laughs, mostly involving the extended family -- including Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) and Grandma (Bette Midler) -- and the requisite New Jersey jokes, which kids might not even get. Moretz and Wolfhard are good at their bored, disaffected voices, while Isaac and Theron seem to pay tribute to the famous actors who previously portrayed Gomez and Morticia, particularly Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston.
There's a special place in pop culture history for The Addams Family, although it's possible younger viewers may not know much more than summer-camp spoofs of the legendary theme song. It's too bad this Halloween-timed incarnation is only decent enough to get families (particularly those with nostalgic parents) into theaters for a seasonal screening, rather than to rebuild a franchise. It would be far better to simply stream, rent, or buy the previous versions of the Addams Family than to make this serviceable but unremarkable adaptation the definitive depiction of the blissfully creepy family.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in The Addams Family. Is it necessary to the story? How does the movie's comic tone affect the impact of the violent moments?
Are animated movies less frightening than live-action movies? Why or why not? Do they impact younger viewers differently? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?
The movie deals with the conflict between assimilation/conformity and individuality/eccentricity. How do the Addamses stand apart from their neighbors? Why are people who rebel against social standards often seen as threatening?
- In theaters: October 11, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: January 21, 2020
- Cast: Charlize Theron, Finn Wolfhard, Chloe Grace Moretz
- Directors: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon
- Studio: United Artists Releasing
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: macabre and suggestive humor, and some action
- Last updated: January 21, 2020
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