This is a spoiler-free review from Wednesday, arriving on Netflix on November 23.
In the pantheon of perfect casting, Jenna Ortega belongs as Wednesday Addams alongside Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier. Netflix’s new series, Wednesday, gives Ortega a creepy and goofy playground that she’s making her own with ease, despite a few bumps in the road.
Since it’s not really an adaptation, sequel, or reboot of the Addams Family movies or series, Wednesday can largely create his world on his own terms. Much tribute is paid to the hauntingly hilarious family of Charles Addams with a genuine love of outcasts on full display throughout.
Tim Burton (director of episodes 1-4) and legendary composer Danny Elfman still go together like peanut butter and jelly, but don’t expect Wednesday to be as extravagant as some of Burton’s zanier fare. It’s trite, but “creepy and goofy” really are the perfect descriptions here. There’s some delicious gore in the series, but there’s also a lot of fluff. It’s hard to balance the two, but showrunners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar manage it with quite a bit of success.
Ortega’s performance as Wednesday certainly plays a big part in that success. Given the character’s apathy and generally brooding nature, it can be difficult to bring believable energy to the table. However, Ortega’s ability to act with her eyes and choice to save the few emotional moments for when she For real case make Wednesday an effective lead. At this point, we expect Gwendoline Christie to be exceptional (which she is), but Joy Sunday’s Bianca Barclay and Emma Myers’ Enid Sinclair also deserve honorable mentions.
It’s always a shame when you’re forced to give a little credence to Internet preemptive responses, but the one performance that doesn’t work is Luis Guzmán. It’s not the look that people gritted their teeth about – Guzmán and the costume department did a great job on that! Whether it’s because of the directing or the actor struggling to talk about the dentures he wears in character, he just doesn’t meet the charisma requirements for Gomez Addams. Still, Gomez and the rest of the Addams Family are present in fairly limited numbers on Wednesday, so don’t worry about this taking too much out of the story.
However, what does come out of the story are the characterizations of the milquetoast boys surrounding Wednesday Addams. Through no fault of Hunter Doohan or Percy Hynes White, Tyler and Xavier (who play the actors respectively) are definitely the most bland, bland, sentient bits of soggy bread since the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s Harvey Kinkle. At no point are the struggles or obsessions surrounding these young men believable. Meanwhile, as Sunday does what she can with Queen Bee Bianca, her infinitely more interesting story plays in the background as Tyler and Xavier lead the way for a boring love triangle that even Wednesday has no interest in being a part of.
Still, Wednesday is quite a success. It’s a fun, silly, and sometimes gory introduction for budding young horror fans looking to step up from Scooby-Doo. Elfman’s score is a blast as always, and the set design is just the right amount of exaggeration. Putting friendship first is a tough challenge for Wednesday to master, but her relationship with new bestie Enid is believable and heartwarming (but don’t tell Wednesday that).
Netflix Spotlight: November 2022