“My Lifestyle Goals Right There”: Dr. Lauren & Darren Review “The Addams Family” (2019)

Dr. Lauren McIntyre is a horror obsessive, tattoo connoisseur, natural Goth and cat wrangler. Lauren hasn’t had her hair cut since before Christmas and is starting to resemble Cousin It. Say hi to her on Twitter: @noddinggoth

Darren Gaskell is a horror obsessive and “enthusiastic” karaoke performer. Darren hopes he possesses the charm of Gomez but has the feeling his social skills are more in line with Uncle Fester. Say hi to him on Twitter: @darren_gaskell

*** WARNING: THERE ARE SOME SPOILERS AND A SMALL NUMBER OF SWEARS IN THIS ***

THE ADDAMS FAMILY (2019)

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz

Writer: Matt Lieberman (story by Matt Lieberman, Erica Rivinoja, Conrad Vernon)

Directors: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon

Darren: After reviewing the teen horror that was School Spirits, we’re now going into proper hardcore, grindhouse territory with the PG-rated animated version of The Addams Family which came out last year and has recently come to Netflix.

Dr. Lauren: Yaaaaaay! I missed this at the cinema. I was absolutely dying to see it but I was really busy around Halloween and I totally missed it.

Darren: I didn’t see it either. I remember it being around but I probably went off and saw some other horror-related stuff over Halloween. In fact, I’m positive I would have done that. There were quite a few things out at the cinema so this one got shoved to the back, basically because it’s more or less a movie for kids.

Dr. Lauren: It is a kid’s film.

Darren: It’s got some adult-leaning stuff in it but it is generally a kid’s movie.

Dr. Lauren: Are you a big Addams Family fan anyway?

Darren: I am, yes. I’m a big fan of the original TV series. Without putting too fine a point on it, Morticia Addams is pretty much my ideal woman.

[Dr. Lauren starts laughing]

Darren: And to find out that Morticia Addams is played here by Charlize Theron….well. Love Morticia Addams, love Charlize Theron. I had no problem sitting through this.

Dr. Lauren: I really loved the 60s series. I watched it a lot as a kid which might explain a few things.

[It’s now Darren’s turn to start laughing]

Dr. Lauren: Also, I was about the right age for the 90s Addams Family films when they came out, with Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston. I remember seeing both of those at the cinema with my parents and being absolutely in love with those films. There was a double bill of them on TV a couple of weekends ago and I did miss the first one but I rewatched the second one, Addams Family Values, which I think is better. Oh God, the bit with the summer camp! The whole thing is amazing.

Darren: I was slightly too old to catch the remakes at the time. I have seen them and if I’d have been a bit younger they’d have probably landed a bit more. I did like them. I was probably in a particularly cynical phase at that point so I’d have been grumpily saying “I don’t want PG-rated horror, it’s all rubbish”.

Dr. Lauren: You can still quote them. “I’ll never forget you, you’re too weird”.

Darren: Exactly. I have mellowed a lot towards this kind of thing since then. When we talked about School Spirits I did mention how much I enjoyed the Goosebumps movie.

Dr. Lauren: I haven’t watched those but as for The Addams Family, I’m in.

Darren: The first Goosebumps movie is particularly good. The second one is okay. Anyway, back to the Addams Family.

Dr. Lauren: Because I’m a big Addams Family fan I was a little bit worried. You don’t want someone to make a hash of it but I was in from the second in the opening sequence where you see young Morticia drilling her boots on to her leg.

Darren: The look of the film is very good, really stylised.

Dr. Lauren: I don’t know if you know this but it’s based on the 30s versions of the characters so they look like the original ones.

Darren: Which is a smart thing to do. The plot, such that it is, is an excuse to chuck in a load of horror-related gags but the story is that the Addams Family move into a house and several years afterwards they’re raising their kids and an all-American town springs up close by.

Dr. Lauren? What’s it called? Assimilation?

Darren: Assimilation! It’s kind of run by this maniacal home makeover woman called Margaux Needler, who’s voiced by Allison Janney. Again, I love Allison Janney. All of the voice acting in this is really great.

Dr. Lauren: The cast in this film is bloody amazing! You’ve got Charlize Theron as Morticia, there’s Oscar Isaac as Gomez, Finn Wolfhard as Pugsley, you’ve got Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester and Chloe Grace Moretz as Wednesday. Then you’ve got Bette Midler playing the grandma in it.

Darren: If you’ve got someone like Bette Midler playing a supporting role then you can’t complain about the cast.

Dr. Lauren; And, hilariously, Snoop Dogg is Cousin It!

Darren: Without ruining the joke to do with when Cousin It turns up, it works. It’s great casting. I wouldn’t have sat down and thought “Who can we get to play cousin It? Oh yeah, let’s have Snoop Dogg”. It really does work. The plot is basic culture clash stuff, you’ll have seen it all before. The Addams Family are the weirdos…

Dr. Lauren: Yeah, the people in the nice town don’t want spooky neighbours. It’s a “getting to know each other, just ’cause someone looks different doesn’t mean they’re awful” story job.

Darren: It’s not breaking any new ground in terms of the plot but as I said earlier it’s more or less a peg on which to hang horror-related gags so if you are a bit of a horror fan you can spot all of the references to various other movies which are littered throughout the film.

Dr. Lauren: Yeah but I think if you’re not a horror fan it won’t matter.

Darren: No, not at all.

Dr. Lauren: You know when Joss Whedon’s stuff sometimes gets too…

Darren: Smart arsey?

Dr. Lauren: Yeah, too self-referential. Too smart arsey. It’s not like that.

Darren: No, it’s not. The gags work without you having to know the movie from which they’ve come. You know I’m going to talk about the Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers gag now.

Dr. Lauren: Yes!

Darren: There is a joke to do with a very famous shot from the Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers remake but if you haven’t seen it the joke still works because of what else is happening at the time.

Dr. Lauren: I absolutely howled at that. I could not believe they’d thrown that in. It’s amazing.

Darren: Looking at the reviews on imdb, there’s a lot of people slagging this off.

Dr. Lauren: Really?

Darren: Yeah, there are people saying it doesn’t stick to the true spirit of The Addams Family.

Dr. Lauren: Oh, fuck off!

Darren: The thing is why would you want, say, a complete remake of the TV show?

Dr. Lauren: I thought I was fairly true to it, to be honest. They brought back the lion from the TV show which they never had in the 90s films.

Darren: That’s true.

Dr. Lauren: I honestly can’t see there was anything in this one – other than it was an updated version so people had mobile phones – that wasn’t in the spirit of the original.

Darren: Maybe people were just down on it in terms of “It’s not what I grew up with”. You do get that line of criticism which says “This took everything I loved as a kid and completely bastardised it”.

Dr. Lauren: To those people, I’d say that’s absolute horseshit.

Darren: The design of it is great, I liked the animation…

Dr. Lauren: It’s very detailed.

Darren: It is.

Dr. Lauren: The animation’s really good and there were lots of little things happening in it that were just tiny throwaways that added to it. Like the bit where Morticia and Wednesday were having an argument and Morticia’s face was all red, then a little bat flies across the scene and drains the blood out of her neck until she goes white again.

Darren: After the Bodysnatchers gag that bit with the bat was my second favourite joke. And you see it in a really long shot as well. They don’t really draw any attention to it. You see it from a long way off and you hear it slurping and then it flies off. You’re right, there are these throwaway gags which other movies would have really overplayed. It seems as though they had a lot of fun putting this together.

Dr. Lauren: Everyone doing the voices seems to be having a really good time with it. I think that Nick Kroll was probably my favourite in terms of what he’s given to do and what he did with it. I mean, he is a good voice actor anyway. I don’t know if you’ve watched Big Mouth…

Darren: Yes.

Dr. Lauren: I love him in that. He was great as Uncle Fester.

Darren: I think Fester gets the bulk of the best lines. He’s basically there just to arse about.

Dr. Lauren: Yeah!

Darren: There’s lots of comic relief but he’s the guy that’s there to do the really stupid stuff. Even when he has no dialogue there are running gags to do with him. There’s one where he keeps getting shot with arrows. All the really daft stuff in this movie is Fester-related.

Dr. Lauren: Yes.

Darren: Oscar Isaac, as Gomez, is really going for it. He’s hamming it for all he’s worth at some points. Which is what he needs to do.

Dr. Lauren: I think the only person that’s a little underplayed is Finn Wolfhard. He gets enough to do but I think they could have done a little bit more with him. That’s not to say he isn’t good because he is and his bit of the story still works. There’s a subplot in which Pugsley is having this kind of coming of age ceremony, a bit like a bar mitzvah, where he has to do a sword dance and that comes into play towards the end of the film.

Darren: That subplot was one of the weird things in the film for me and I wouldn’t say it’s a fault of the movie but it spends a fair bit of time building that in terms of the plot and then it’s pretty much junked fairly quickly in favour of something else.

Dr. Lauren: I was also a little bit surprised about what happened to the villain at the end. That came out of nowhere.

Darren: That was both surprising and quite funny. But if you have a movie that has spiders forming a bridge over a bottomless pit…

Dr. Lauren: Oh my God, the wine cellar!

[You’ll have to watch it to find out about the wine cellar.]

Darren: …if you’ve got stuff like that going on then you can’t point the finger at where other plot developments would stretch credulity. However, the resolution of the Margaux Needler plot is arguably the most bizarre thing about the movie.

Dr. Lauren: It just comes out of nowhere, doesn’t it?

Darren: It does. But you could have just thrown anything into this, really.

Dr. Lauren: It didn’t matter.

Darren: It works on its own terms. You can’t use the “well, that wouldn’t have happened” argument because the whole thing wouldn’t have happened before that.

Dr. Lauren: I was also enjoying the insinuations about the relationship between the grandma and Lurch.

Darren: Oh yes. Lurch is particularly good in this.

Dr. Lauren: He is very good.

Darren: And quite a dab hand at the keyboards.

Dr. Lauren: In the original it was a harpsichord, I think.

Darren: He’s on a piano at one point and he’s definitely playing a kind of church organ at one point. He does a pretty good cover of Green Onions by Booker T. and the M.G.’s.

Dr. Lauren: The soundtrack’s interesting because there’s quite a lot of modern songs in it. I imagine that, judging by the cast involved, they had a fair bit of money to throw at it. They’ve covered some songs that everyone will recognise and I thought they came out all right, actually.

Darren: I did a tiny bit of research about the budget…

Dr. Lauren: I did no research.

Darren: I just wanted to know how much it cost and apparently it was $24million.

Dr. Lauren: Oh, really?

Darren: In the scheme of things, if you think about what Pixar might spend on animation, that’s not hideous in terms of budget. I don’t know what people will make of this. People who remember the TV series seem to be quite upset about it. People have also said it’s too much of a kid’s movie. Well, it is a kid’s movie.

Dr. Lauren: The 90s films were kids’ movies as well. This one’s probably not quite as dark as the 90s Anjelica Huston ones.

Darren: No, that’s fair. They’ve taken a step back on the potentially darker stuff. I’m not entirely sure how horror fans will take this either. I think they’ll appreciate the references to other movies. Whether that will carry them through the rest of it, I don’t know. Occasionally, it’s so laid back in the way it’s set up that it doesn’t feel the need to put any jokes in so you get the odd gap after having lots of jokes piled up on each other. In terms of the comedy I found it to have a couple of flat spots.

Dr. Lauren: Yeah. I didn’t notice it. I just really enjoyed it.

Darren: If you’re swept up with the characters and how it looks then I can see how it’s not one of those things where it has to be funny all the time. It’s not a massive gripe from me. It’s very rare you get a comedy that hits the mark every single time.

Dr. Lauren: So, what would you score it?

Darren: Hmm. I’d give it three and a half out of five.

Dr. Lauren: I’m going to give it four out of five.

Darren: I was heading towards four but it didn’t quite get there because of the couple of lulls. Also it wasn’t quite as dark as I possibly wanted it to be but equally it’s a film for kids so there’s only a certain point to which you can go. My line in the sand as to what’s dark and what isn’t is probably a long way from most other people’s.

Dr. Lauren: I thought it was a lot of fun. It’d be a good rainy Saturday movie if you’ve got small children. I want to live in the Addams Family house, I want to be in their family. I just want to be there. And I want Wednesday’s pet octopus, whatever its name was.

Darren: Oh…what was its name?

Dr. Lauren: It turns up and then disappears at an alarming rate. It’s not there for ages and then it just crops up again but I loved him and every second he was in it. I felt he was trying to hog the limelight because he was always doing something.

Darren: Yeah, he was getting into the drinks and everything….hold on, was it Socrates?

Dr. Lauren: Yes! It was Socrates!

Darren: Alison [Darren’s long suffering, ridiculously tolerant wife] suggested it might be Ulysses, I knew it was something along those lines.

Dr. Lauren: What did Alison think of it? Did she watch it as well?

Darren: Yes, she did watch it.

Dr. Lauren: Can we get a non-horror fan’s perspective on this?

Darren: Yeah, we probably should really.

[Alison had wandered into the room a few seconds earlier]

Alison: I liked it. I thought it was fun. I liked the woman with the big hair who got her comeuppance.

Darren: The makeover woman.

Dr. Lauren: Margaux.

Alison: The fact that she’d been watching everyone do things like put their pants in the freezer. She was the horrible thing in it, not everyone else.

Darren: As ever, Morticia Addams for the win.

Dr. Lauren: Oh yes. My lifestyle goals right there.

Alison: I thought that Gomez did have a look of Oscar Isaac.

Dr. Lauren: Yeah, a little bit!

Darren: I’ve got through this entire review as well without going on about Oscar Isaac.

Dr. Lauren: Yeah, I was waiting for you to go on about him. Go on, you can have an Oscar Isaac man crush moment. Go on.

Darren: Even in animated form, I’ve still got a man crush on Oscar Isaac.

Dr. Lauren: I always had a crush on Gomez. The John Astin Gomez rather than the Raul Julia Gomez.

Darren: I’m just gonna leave that Oscar Isaac stuff there.

[And as Darren gazed wistfully into space, here are the scores.]

THE SCORES

Dr. Lauren: 4 / 5

Darren: 3.5 / 5

About celluloiddeej

Film fan, horror festival goer, karaoke enthusiast, cat whisperer, world traveller, complete idiot. Happy to chat with you on your podcast/whatever if you can stand the Yorkshire accent.

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