‘The Addams Family’ tries to get 1960s Nostalgia Right, and still have a Contemporary Appeal
In a world of lack-luster “Smurf” and “Peanuts” reboots, we are really hoping that the new Addams Family movie finally gets the Baby-Boomer pop-culture icon recreation right. MGM and Cinesite Animation’s “The Addams Family” comes out October 11th, aiming to capture some family-friendly spookiness just in time for Halloween.
Of course, “The Addams Family” is based off of Charles Addams’ famous 1960s live-action TV series of the same name. Just like the series, it focuses on the title family, which is made up of ghoulish versions of American nuclear family archetypes. As aforementioned, though, while Hollywood has been successful in cultivating 1980s nostalgia in recent years, its attempts to bring back icons from the early days of television has been less than fruitful.
The last time that the Addams family appeared in a movie was 1998’s “The Addams Family Reunion” and that same year they came back for “The New Adams Family” TV series. In the nineties, however, such black-and-white television era intellectual property may have been more marketable. After all, this was the decade that gave us cinematic remakes of “Leave It To Beaver,” “Dennis the Menace,” and “The Little Rascals.”
In 2019, even parents may not be familiar with the characters from “The Addams Family.” This is not to say that the movie will lack quality, but rather that the appeal may not be as strong as it was twenty years ago.
Family Friendly Halloween fare that Resurrects a Favorite from the Boomer’s Childhoods
Nevertheless, “The Addams Family” has been getting a lot of marketing, and its trailer looks very endearing. Even if we may not recognize the characters by name, they all seem like fun, quirky people worth spending time with. Likewise, there are only so many Halloween movies that the whole family can enjoy—unless you want to terrify your kids by taking them to “Joker” or a delayed screening of “It: Chapter Two.”
Similarly, the film does not seem stuck in the past. It has many modern twists as members of the family attend contemporary schools and interact with neighbors who are suspicious of the Addams family’s abnormalities. The movie’s villain will even be a proper, overly-conservative lady who riles up the community with fear of the Addams family’s nonconformity.
This gives way to the film’s touching and timely message. As it always has been with the Addams family, beneath all the jokes and slapstick grotesqueness, family perseveres as the core theme. The movie’s first trailer begins with illustrations of different kinds of American families, from nuclear families to biracial families to queer families and so on. All the while, a voice over narration explains, “every family is different, but some families are more different than others,” before revealing the monstrous Addams.
Thus, the movie’s ultimate moral will likely have to do with diversity and acceptance within both families and communities. With a dazzling cast of Oscar Issac, Charlize Theron, Chlöe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, and Snoop Dogg, though, and wacky team of writers and directors who have credits ranging from the classic “An American Tale” to the raunchy “Sausage Party,” the new movie is likely to show this message in a very unique way. One that does not lack in humor, daringness, quality, or emotionality.
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