Mission Lab

REVIEW: ‘The Addams Family’ is macabre, but is that OK?

October 11th, 2019 / By: Michael Foust / comments

REVIEW: ‘The Addams Family’ is macabre, but is that OK?

Credit MGM

Gomez Addams is a protective father who only wants what is best for his children, Wednesday and Pugsley.

Or, maybe he wants the worst.

Whatever the case, Gomez and his family—including his wife Morticia and his brother Fester and—are a tight-knit bunch. They play together. They eat together. They defend one another.

They’re also a strange bunch. For starters, the Addams live in a run-down mansion that always seems to reside under a gray cloud. They also like everything the outside world hates. Like rainy days, and bats, and dust, and dark depressing clothes. Then there’s their connection to the spirit world. They communicate regularly with deceased relatives, who—get this—send them gifts.

They are a macabre family living their dream life.

But then Wednesday—their teen girl—begins wondering what the outside world is like. And then the Addams learn of an even bigger threat to their dark-and-dreary life: A home-improvement show that is being filmed at the bottom of their hill in a new town. And then the star of the show volunteers to improve their home.

Can their weird way of life survive these new challenges?

The animated film The Addams Family (PG) opens this weekend, starring Oscar Isaac (The Force Awakens) as Gomez, Charlize Theron (Snow White and the Huntsman) as Morticia, and Bette Midler (Beaches, Murphy Brown) as Grandma.

The film is a new take on the story that began with a series of comic strips and was popularized with a 1960s TV series. It follows a family that does everything the opposite of the real world. When it’s time to dust the house, they blow moredust into the room. When they drop Wednesday off at school, they say, “Do your worst.” When they see people laughing, they wonder what’s wrong.

The Addams Family is only the latest children’s film to spotlight the spooky world, following the Hotel Transylvaniaseries and the Goosebumpsmovies.

The Addams Family may be more family-friendly than Goosebumps (that’s up for debate), but it’s far darker than any of the Hotel Transylvania movies. It’s so dark that the word “macabre” made it into the film’s rating (which says it’s PG for macabre and suggestive humor, and some action.)

Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!

(Scale key: none, minimal, moderate, extreme)

Violence/Disturbing

Moderate. The film is filled with Looney Tunes-type violence that’s played for laughs, but due to the macabre nature of the family, it seems more disturbing. The funny-but-spooky “Thing” is nothing more than a disembodied hand with a mind of its own. Pugsley, the boy, often shoots his uncle with either arrows or small bombs as part of “target practice.” (The uncle applauds him each time.) Pugsley climbs down the mouth of their pet lion to retrieve his meal. When a red balloon lands on the family’s property, Morticia jokes that it’s typically held by a “murderous clown.” Wednesday buries her brother in a grave, apparently as a joke. (He quickly digs out.) Lurch the butler, who looks a lot like Frankenstein’s monster, answers the door with a deep-voiced and eerie “you raaaang?” Pugsley briefly climbs the walls—his pupils a bright white. A family member jokes about a gift they were given “from dead relatives.” Wednesday wonders why her vanity mirror—unlike a smartphone—can hold only “14 souls at a time.” We hear a joke about embalming fluid. A bat bites Morticia’s neck, and we hear a straw-sucking sound. Morticia, wanting to get to know Wednesday better, invites her to a “tea and séance” in the grave. Mortician then communicates with her deceased parents. She also uses an Ouija board. The final scene includes multiple things blowing up.

Sexuality/Sensuality/Nudity

Minimal. Morticia’s dress shows a bit of cleavage. A couple briefly kisses at the end.

Coarse Language

Minimal. One or two barely heard OMGs.

Other Positive Elements

Sure, Mr. and Mrs. Addams love all things dark, but they also love their children.

Other Stuff You Might Want To Know

Wednesday goes to a public schools and sees a friend, Parker, bullied. (The other girl places a sandwich and drink in Parker’s backpack.) At the school, Wednesday creates a device to bring dead frogs (intended for dissection) back to life. 

Life Lessons

Don’t put work before family: Margaux Needler, the TV host, ignores her teen daughter, Parker, who essentially grows up without a caring mother in her life.

Let your kids be themselves: Of course, this has its limits, but in The Addams Family, the parents want their children to be exactly like them. They fail to see Wednesday and Pugsley as unique individuals.

Don’t judge people on appearance: This is the film’s primary message, and it’s driven home in the movie’s final minutes. It’s a good lesson for children to learn.   

Worldview/Application

I watched the black-and-white, live-action version of The Addams Family while growing up. It was funny -- and original.

Since then, though, I’ve become uncomfortable with a story that makes jokes about séances, Ouija boards and the dead. Those are things Scripture explicitly tells us notto embrace.

The Addams Family trivializes the dark world. It makes it seem fun, humorous and attractive—when it’s just the opposite. (Morticia talks to her dead parents much like we would call a real-world person on an iPhone.)

No doubt, much of the film humor is family-friendly and appropriate. (Who wouldn’t laugh at a person “dusting” a house by making it dustier?) But much of the humor is not.

Sponsors

Hershey’s, IHOP, Goodwill, Tombstone, General Mills, Cost Plus World Market and Scholastic.

Discussion Questions

  1. Is the dark world presented as good or bad?
  2. What does the Bible say about communicating with the dead?
  3. Do you like macabre movies? Why or why not?
  4. Are macabre films ever OK?
  5. What lessons can we learn from the relationship between the Addams parents and their children?

Entertainment rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Rated PG for macabre and suggestive humor, and some action.