“Death at Sea. She’s hooked”

It’s never clear how/why the Addams’ survive when electrocuted or poisoned – they take joy in the macabre, and appreciate pain. Maybe it’s centuries of family genetics. Or magic or witches or spirits. No one seems to know, and the Addams never seem to care.

The Addams Family exists in a cartoon space, enthusiastic and cheery, but about things that generally are, well, not enthusiastic and cheery. Moonlight romance in the graveyard, baked slugs (or something like that) for dinner, and a fetish for electric chairs; that’s how they spend their days.

While occasionally aimless, Addams Family succeeds when these sophisticated oddballs play off the world’s “normals.” There’s not enough of that in this movie. The story concerns greed and the allure of the Addams’ money vault. This script spins norms on their head – as it needs to – by making the pale-faced family gentile heroes who donate thousands to the needy, while stiff and strict lawyer-y types seek some fast cash.

Addams Family came right on the cusp of social change

All morals lie in the Addams’ court, which says something as Granny (Judith Malina) chases down neighborhood dogs and cats for food. There’s a small bit where a teacher asks family patriarch Morticia (Anjelica Huston) about her daughter’s hero – a family member burned at the stake for being a witch, while other students posted images of George Bush I. It’s a potent moment where the Addams’ lineage stands up for society’s disdained and against the bigoted or judgmental.

While notably lured into existence by way of the original TV series, the update takes on a different allure. Addams Family came right on the cusp of social change as the fight over gay rights began to simmer, and Nirvana spun disdain. Goth and grunge kids took over punk.

And here’s Addams Family, this posh, unfazed clan who happily exist at (generally) no bother to others, yet find themselves constantly judged for their style and lack of conformity. They never care, though. It’s the others who fear and panic, their adversaries who worry about being found out for who they really are. That’s never a question of the Addams’. Rather, they exude pride for their explosives infatuation, and cheer at the chance to dig up dead relatives. They do as they wish, and while at times a little arrogant (sending golf balls through their neighbors windows), they always do so with playful intent. Because again, they play by cartoon rules.

Video

All over the place sums up this HD transfer. It’s equal parts gorgeous and frumpy. Moments of impeccable sharpness butt against murky, low-res visuals. That’s even leaving space for the visual effects, noting their inherent resolution loss.

When Morticia visits with the teacher, grain looks normal and pure. Detail sticks out with excellent texture. Soon Addams Family whittles down to a dull mess where no grain is apparent. The same goes for everything, between richly textured close-ups to those pulling out no discernible definition.

In terms of contrast, Addams Family looks stellar. Deep black levels lose none of their heft; dimension is consistent. Highlights accentuate the darkened cinematography as needed, splendid in bringing light to the world after an eviction pushes the Addams into a hotel. Likewise, color saturates, finding variety even in the pale face of Lurch. In that, this transfer provides attractive material.

Audio

Routine DTS-HD utilizes the soundstage for action or ambiance, although discreet touches struggle to break free. While an early fencing fight clashes in every speaker, picking up a specific direction proves challenging. Even the finale, with hurricane winds, fills the soundstage but flying debris doesn’t pass through a rear or stereo obviously.

Moderate LFE muddies, with a few bold moments – say some knocks at the door – adding weight. Otherwise, the subwoofer accompanies the mix minus tightness.

Extras

Trailers. That’s all.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Addams Family
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Movie

A cartoon fable about being content with who you are, The Addams Family isn’t much for plot, but uses its platform to do more that revitalize a TV series.

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