The Addams Family (1991)

Back in The Great Depression, cartoonist Charles Addams created a comic strip called, “The Addams Family.” About a family of quirky characters depicted as a parody of horror themed characters inspired by “Universal Monsters” satirizing wealthy American families who are oblivious to their odd behavior and lifestyle. They’re not really blood thirsty psychopaths, just friendly people who are unaware of their crazy antics.

The Addams Family has well known characters such as Gomez, the patriarch entrepreneur based on dashing swashbucklers Don Juan & Zorro, unlike the two, Gomez is a manchild who loves playing with trains. Morticia, the matriarch housewife who’s perhaps the girl goth person before Goth or Emo music existed. Uncle Fester, Gomez’ brother a bald overweight mad scientist who’s an exaggerated parody of Dr. Frankenstein & Curly from The Three Stooges.

Lurch, the butler resembling Frankenstein, known for his catchphrase, “You rang?” Wednesday, the daughter who’s a girl version of Damian from “The Omen.” Pugsley, the son a chubby boy who has a knack for inventing dangerous booby traps. Grandmama, Gomez’ mother obviously acts like an old timey witch experimenting with potions. Thing, a disembodied hand. He’s the original “The Thing” before Ben Grimm from “Fantastic Four,” the shape shifting antagonist from the original and John Carpenter remake. Last but not least, Cousin Itt, a short guy with hair all over his body wearing nothing but shoes, sunglasses and a hat. He speaks gibberish.

In The 1960’s ABC broadcasted a Black & White television series based on the comic strip airing from 1964-1966. Known for its catchy theme song. Although it wasn’t a huge success, it went on to become a cult classic spawning an animated show from The 70’s, merchandise, action figures, t-shirts, video games, a broadway show and a live action show aired on Fox Kids. The Addams Family was later adapted into a live action film directed by former Coen Brothers cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld. (Men In Black, Get Shorty)

The Addams Family was released in 1991. (same year The Silence Of The Lambs came out) It received mixed to positive reviews from critics and movie goers alike. Besides good reception, it also made enough money at the box office. A sequel titled, “The Addams Family Values,” was released in 1993. (the year I was born) A third film was permanently scrapped after Raul Julia’s untimely death. They were all replaced in a direct-to-video film, “The Addams Family Reunion” with Tim Curry as Gomez Addams.

Now that The Addams Family is rebooted as a computer animated film in an attempt match the popular success of the “Hotel Transylvania” series known for mixing horror themed atmosphere into a quirky slapstick comedy. I’d like share what’s good or bad about this particular live action adaptation of the beloved family of weirdos.

The following review doesn’t contain no SPOILERS whatsoever. Feel free to read my non-spoiler article if you’ve never ever ever seen the original live action film. Does it still hold up? Let’s find out shall we?

Yay & Nay Qualities

Yay: The Main Cast including Christopher Lloyd, Angelica Huston, Christiana Ricci & the late Raul Julia all did a decent job for their respective performances as members of the titular family.

Cinematographer turned film director Barry Sonnenfeld did a great job directing his first movie.

Humor contains elements of black comedy similar to “Beetlejuice.” I would assume Tim Burton did some uncredited writing, giving pointers to the script. Tim himself gave Barry the director’s chair.

Cinematography never had a bad case of Shaky Cam.

Practical Effects were heavily used to orchestrate each family member’s quirky attributes.

Chemistry between members of the family served as the main highlight.

Set Pieces were manually designed to bring The Addams Mansion to life.

Costume Designers customized outfits reflecting the titular family’s personalities.

Prosthetic Makeup was applied to the actors, transforming each one into his/her character. Especially Christopher Lloyd, he wore a fatsuit and baldcap.

Marc Shaiman (Hairspray, South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut) composed music for the movie.

The theme song from the original 60’s show is retained.

The narrative primarily focuses on Gomez reuniting with Fester after being absent for many years.

A pair of con artists factor in the story over something very important connected to Gomez. A vault of gold coins.

Gomez said my favorite word, “faker.” I always use faker if I give a movie or show my lowest grade.

MC Hammer contributed to the soundtrack with a song called, “Addams Groove.” Hammer’s other signature song, 2 Legit 2 Quit” is played briefly in one scene.

Somebody said Arnold Schwarzenegger’s catchphrase, “I’ll be back.” Terminator 2: Judgement Day” came out the exact same year as The Addams Family. Judgement Day is one of my favorite movies of all time.

The Ending sets up The Addams Family Values. For those who’ve the sequel, you might understand why.

Nay: Some of the special effects look fake. They haven’t aged pretty well. This was back when Terminator 2: Judgement Day became a game changer in terms of C.G.I. My only complaint was a fake green screen.

The Final Verdict: A-

In my opinion, The Addams Family still holds up for a movie that came out the same year as Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The Cast did a great job for their performances. Barry Sonnenfeld proved himself worthy as a director, until “Wild Wild West & “Nine Lives” flushed his career down the toilet. Practical Effects brought scenes to life among a few things on the positive section. If you’re curious to see the animated reboot, I highly recommend the 1991 version and it’s sequel.

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