The Addams Family (1991) / Comedy-Fantasy
MPAA Rated: PG for comic violence
Running Time: 99 min.
Cast: Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, Elizabeth Wilson, Christina Ricci, Dan Hedaya, Carel Struycken, Jimmy Workman, Dana Ivey
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Screenplay: Caroline Thompson, Larry Wilson
Review published February 1, 2006
One of the better big screen adaptations of a small screen television show, The Addams Family may not be completely faithful in its adherence to the characters and humor of the TV show, but it does work well in terms of entertaining on its own terms. With an excellent cast of character actors in all of the roles, as well as terrific costumes, sets and special effects, no expense was spared in getting the look and feel of the eerie world the Addams' inhabit just right. It looks great, it sounds great, and most importantly, it's a lot of fun for fans, while making fans of those that may have never seen it.
In what seems like an extended episode of the TV show, although it isn't in continuity by any means, Gomez (Julia, Presumed Innocent) finds that his long-lost brother Fester (Lloyd, Back to the Future Part III), who has been missing and presumed dead in a Bermuda Triangle debacle, may actually be alive after all when he shows up at the family home. Unbeknownst to the family, Fester is actually a scheming imposter, who, along with his greedy mother pretending to be the family shrink, plans to steal the Addams fortune from right under their very noses.
The Addams Family doesn't pretend to be anything more than a pure piece of entertainment for young and old, with lots of delicious dark humor, kooky characters, and a great deal of side jokes to keep the laughs coming, even if the plot isn't particularly gripping. Credit screenwriters Caroline Thompson and Larry Wilson, for taking the characters from the TV show and actually making a workable story to follow, rather than be a semi-parody or rehash just for the sake of an easy cash-in. It should come as no surprise that Thompson and Wilson had done writing chores for Edward Scissorhands and BeetleJuice, respectively, as this film seems to be very similar to the wit and visual effects of Tim Burrton's films.
While the cast plays well in their respective roles, the standout performance of the film goes to Christina Ricci (The Opposite of Sex, Pecker) as the straight-faced and cold-hearted Wednesday. It would be so memorable, Ricci would play as the spoiled, conniving bad girl in almost any movie she made afterward. Julia and Huston (The Grifters, Crimes and Misdemeanors) are positively effervescent in their charismatic deliveries, while Christopher Lloyd is oddly likeable in his role of the "heavy", Gordon, the faux Uncle Fester.
The Addams Family is one of the few dark comedies that is considered to be a family film, and it does play to every age group quite well. For innocuous fun, you can pay a call on this one.
-- Followed by Addams Family Values and Addams Family Reunion.
©2006 Vince Leo