Tag Archives: Catherine O’Hara

More Spooky, Less Ooky

The Addams Family

by Hope Madden

Has anything ever embraced the outcast narrative with as much macabre panache as Charles Addams’s single-panel cartoons, The Addams Family?

Their pride in themselves and obliviousness to the reaction of those around them continue to offer opportunity to pick at society’s weakness for sameness. Rooting a story of individuality versus conformity with the two pre-adolescent characters (Addams children Wednesday and Pugsley) makes good sense.

This should totally have worked.

The voice talent ensemble is a thing of envy: Charlize Theron, Oscar Isaac, Chloe Grace Moretz, Bette Midler, Allison Janney, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Elsie Fisher, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara and Snoop Dogg. That’s two Oscars, three nominations and one Snoop.

The standouts here are Janney and Moretz, each the funhouse mirror opposite image of the other. Janney’s zealous believer in conformity, Margaux Needler, is a home improvement guru with a reality TV show and a motto: “Why be yourself when you can be like everyone else?”

Moretz delightfully counters that energy with an entirely deadpan Wednesday. Moretz’s every line is delivered with the emotion of a month old corpse. She’s perfect.

Wednesday chooses public middle school, Pugsley (Wolfhard) preps for a family ritual of manhood, Margaux plots to rid her perfect neighborhood of that eyesore mansion on the hill in time for her TV show’s big season finale. The collision of those three stories bogs and slogs, though, each of the subplots championing individuality.

Which is fine. And that’s what this film is. It’s fine.

Kroll gets a funny bit about where his Fester is and is not allowed to travel. Lurch is reading Little Women. Thing has a foot fetish—that bit’s kind of priceless, actually. But on the whole, the film just kind of lays there. Like a cadaver, but not in a good way.

Co-directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon (who also lends his voice) proved they could envision a highly irreverent cartoon with 2016’s Sausage Party, but have trouble finding solid ground between fornicating lunch meats and Thomas the Tank Engine (Tiernan’s claim to fame).

Co-writer Pamela Pettler (writing here with The Christmas Chronicles’ Matt Lieberman) offers a resume more in line with the concept: The Corpse Bride, Monster House, 9. Yes, she has her goth bona fides. But she struggles to give the story any bite.

The Addams Family is unlikely to charm longstanding fans and will likely bore young moviegoers. It might entertain a slim swath of tweens, but this family deserves better than that.

Sound Familiar?

A.C.O.D. (Adult Children of Divorce)

by Hope Madden

A.C.O.D. takes a comical look at an actual phenomenon. Today’s adults are the first generation of people most likely to have grown up in a broken home, or as the film sees it, “The least parented generation ever.” So, what’s that like?

It’s fascinating and true, and it’s as if screenwriters Ben Charlin and Stu Zicherman (who also directs) are so geeked to be the first folks to think of this that they weave that discoverer’s excitement into the script itself. It gives the film a cynical yet giddy, self-reflexive joy that’s contagious.

The film is a sort of anthropological study told from the inside out. Carter (Adam Scott) is our subject. He’s a successful, perhaps uptight restaurateur and survivor of one of the most acrimonious and hellish parental divorces of all time. But in his adulthood he’s managed to manage his parents – played gloriously by Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara.

But now his little brother is engaged, and Carter must try to get both parents into the same room without killing each other.

Things unravel in a string of heartfelt and humorous surprises; all the while, the researcher who made her career studying children of divorce (Carter, in particular) now wants to resurface with a look at this brand new generation of adults.

The always weird Jane Lynch portrays the researcher in a sort of guardian angel/maybe really the devil sort of role. She appears periodically, manipulates, guides, mocks – but is she really leading Carter to something positive in his life? Or is she just looking to profit from his misfortune? Or is she simply an incompetent wacko? Whichever, she’s a laugh riot.

The whole cast is great and Scott anchors the picture tenderly. Wisely untidy with a provocative ending, the film bucks convention, takes aim at societal preoccupation, generates plenty of sympathetic laughs and never feels smug. It’s not a genius work, but it is a fairly original and genuinely insightful comedy worth checking out.