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‘The Addams Family’ sparks nostalgia without anything new to offer

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, October 23, 2019  /  03:09 pm

Created by American cartoonist Charles Addams in 1983, The Addams Family had graced the pages of The New Yorker magazine until 1988 as anonymous characters.   

They were named The Addams Family in 1964 following their transformation into an animated TV series, according to Washington Post.

The family consists of couple Gomez and Morticia and their children, Wednesday and Pugsley. Living in a Gothic-style house, they’re also accompanied by their servant Lurch, the disembodied hand Thing, Grandma and Gomez’s brother Fester. They have attracted public attention through their dark humor and eccentric lifestyle, which challenged the concept of an ideal American family at that time.

Grandma (left, voiced by Bette Midler) with Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard).Grandma (left, voiced by Bette Midler) with Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard). (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc./File)

Aside from the animated TV series, the “creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky” family had been adapted into various formats, starting from TV series and feature films to stage performance. This year, Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan helmed the family’s animated film which features star-studded voice actors.

The movie The Addams Family starts with a wedding ceremony of Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) that is ruined by angry crowds who don’t accept the nature of the family. Both Gomez and Morticia then decide to avoid people by living in a haunted asylum on the top of a hill in New Jersey where they also meet the asylum’s former patient, Lurch (Conrad Vernon), who later becomes their servant.

Few years have passed and the family now live in seclusion from the outside world. Gomez and Morticia have two children; Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard). The ever enthusiast Pugsley will be attending the family’s sacred ritual Mazurka, while Wednesday is intrigued to discover what’s happening outside their house after finding red balloon and confetti in their garden.

Read also: 'Maleficent' sequel tops N.America box office but underwhelms

Wednesday (left, voiced by Chloe Grace Moretz) is intrigued to find out what's happening outside of her home after discovering red balloon.Wednesday (left, voiced by Chloe Grace Moretz) is intrigued to find out what's happening outside of her home after discovering red balloon. (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc./File)

Taking place slightly far from the hill, TV host and makeover expert Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) is building and selling a planned neighborhood dubbed Assimilation as part of her show’s season finale. She discovers the Addams’ house and she wants to renovate it. Morticia highly rejects her idea, but Margaux is persistent and she plans other terrible actions to fulfill her wish.

The 2019 film has applied original illustration into the characters; Morticia wears black dress with tentacles-like extension on its lower hem, Pugsley wears stripped t-shirt and Wednesday has oval face shape. The film also adds more details into their appearances, one of the examples is Wednesday’s braids that end with nooses.

The latest version of the grim family also pays homage to the past adaptations in several scenes and theme song. They evoke a sense of nostalgia for those who have followed the family’s story since the beginning. Kudos to Theron who is able to maintain Morticia’s enigmatic aura in the film.

Hands of the Addams' loyal servant Lurch (left, voiced by Conrad Vernon). He often enlivens the Addams family's house by playing piano with disembodied hand Thing (right).Hands of the Addams' loyal servant Lurch (left, voiced by Conrad Vernon). He often enlivens the Addams family's house by playing piano with disembodied hand Thing (right). (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc./File)

Unfortunately, the whole narrative fails to give fresh air to the family’s long history. The story overlaps with the other and the film’s resolution unfolds at a fast pace. The relationship between Morticia and Wednesday, who is in her rebellious stage, is interesting to be explored. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t give more room for them. Also, although The Addams Family is classified as semua umur (general) by the National Film Censorship Institute (LSF), meaning that it’s suitable for audience of all ages, a number of the jokes in the film can only be understood by teenagers and above. (kes)


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