Animated version of popular tale doesn't do enough to stand out from the pack

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They're creepy, kooky and altogether ooky, and they're stuck in a movie that doesn't know what to do with them.

"The Addams Family" takes the iconic American goth clan and places them in an shoddy animated tale that feels more like a throwaway episode of the "Addams Family" TV series than a reintroduction of the group to today's audiences.  

When we first meet Morticia (voiced by Charlize Theron) and Gomez (Oscar Isaac), they're being run out of town by an angry mob who shouts things such as "we've had enough of your kind!" at them. They pack up and move "somewhere horrible, somewhere corrupt, somewhere that nobody in their right mind would ever be caught dead in," and settle on New Jersey. 

There, they land inside an abandoned mental hospital on top of a hill, which they convert into their home. Down below, TV host Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) leads a pack of conformists who sing cheery songs about going along with the herd. (Their town is called Assimilation.)

Margaux, with her faux-Southern charm and giant head of hair — make what you will of its similarities to a certain White House occupant — sees the Addams as a threat and leads a revolt against them, using fake social media posts to sway public opinion.

"The Addams Family" spends so much time with Margaux that the Addams themselves are treated like secondary characters. Wednesday, who braids her hair into miniature nooses, is the most fleshed-out of the bunch, and Chloë Grace Moretz's deadpan delivery is spot-on. (Poor Uncle Fester, voiced by Nick Kroll, seems to have been turned into a sex offender.) 

"The Addams Family" builds to a generic "be yourself" message that could have come from any animated tale. In doing so, "The Addams Family" does the last thing the Addams ever wanted to do: it fits in. 

'The Addams Family'

GRADE: C

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

Running time: 92 minutes

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

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