The Good: Funny, Quirky, Decent plot, Interesting characters
The Bad: Plays largely off the introduction of more odd characters, Somewhat predictable plot progression.
The Basics: Funny and weird, The Addams Family is a showcase of good lines, as opposed to a solidly good film.
I’m not sure why I was not as obsessed with my peers, at the time of its release, with The Addams Family. It seems like the exact type thing I would enjoy and I know as a teenager, I actually saw the film. I suspect it had to do with its release time or the reaction of my friends. At the time, I was just getting into Star Trek and I think my friends were quoting The Addams Family ad nauseum the way they did The Nightmare Before Christmas (reviewed here!) to the detriment of my enjoyment of the movie when I finally did see it.
Watching The Addams Family again now, as it came with my wife’s permanent collection, I was surprised by how well it held up. Recently, I watched Batman (reviewed here!), which came out around the same time as The Addams Family and I recalled being less impressive than I initially was. There was so much of it that I found cheesy in that. With The Addams Family, I had the opposite reaction. Supposed to be weird, quirky and honestly funny, The Addams Family is a comedy made almost entirely by the ridiculous horror monster characters who try to interact in the real world.
Twenty-five years after Fester, the older brother of Gomez Addams, goes missing in the Bermuda Triangle, Gomez wants very much to reconcile with his lost brother. The family’s attorney, Tully, wants to invest Addams family money, under Fester’s name (for tax reasons), but Gomez puts it off until the next Quarter. Frustrated with how long it is taking to get money out of the estate and needing to pay off Abigail and Gordon Craven, Tully comes up with a scam: Gordon will impersonate Fester to get into the Addam’s family vault. During a séance, Gordon as Fester arrives and Gomez is quick to take him back.
Despite the inconsistencies with his story and memory, the Addams family – outside Wednesday – openly embraces Fester. But to put their minds at ease, Fester helps Wednesday and Pugsley with their school play and dancing Mamuska with Gomez. In spending time with the Addams family, Gordon begins to turn against his mother. But when Tully and Abigail engineer a restraining order to get the Addams family evicted from their house, Gordon has to choose between his biological and adopted families.
The Addams Family is funny, but the best lines were overplayed to me (as a fan of The Addams Family pinball machine!). Still, The Addams Family has some great lines, mostly based on the fact that they are delivered with childlike glee or a deadpan sensibility that is entirely incongruent to the words themselves. Most of the lines in The Addams Family hinge on very simple reversals from the expected: things like pain being inflicted upon loved one being met with eager anticipation.
The plot is fairly obvious, but nevertheless engaging. The idea of the whole scam aspect and the few mundane human characters mixed with a witch, what appears to be a zombie girl, and the disembodied hand, Thing, plays out well. The mundane characters provide the visual equivalent of a laugh track, reacting with unabashed horror to the delivery of the most shocking lines. On the other hand, some of the scenes that work best feature the family members interacting on their own. Morticia telling Wednesday to play with her food is classic and the way Morticia and Gomez act lovingly toward one another constantly makes for a surprisingly positive nuclear family (despite the fact that they each delight in inflicting pain on one another and they fell in love at a funeral).
The Addams Family is also a great example of good casting coupled with decent performances. Raul Julia is electric as Gomez Addams and Anjelica Huston plays Morticia with a coldness that she later translates into professional detachment when defining her character in The Royal Tenenbaums (reviewed here!). She and Julia have great on-screen chemistry.
It is, predictably enough, Christina Ricci and Christopher Lloyd who steal the film. Ricci plays Wednesday and at her young age, she plays him with a perfect embodiment of creepy and deadpan. Christopher Lloyd, who has pretty incredible range, makes Gordon and Fester distinctly different characters in The Addams Family.
On DVD, The Addams Family has two theatrical trailers, but no other bonus features. For a pretty delightful early-‘90’s quirky film (one that Tim Burton had nothing to do with), it is hard to do better than The Addams Family!
For other works with Dan Hedaya, please check out my reviews of:
Strangers With Candy
The Usual Suspects
For other film reviews, be sure to check out my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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