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The Addams Family (1991)

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld Written by Caroline Thompson & Larry Wilson

  “They’re creepy and they’re kooky, Mysterious and spooky, They’re all together ooky, The Addams Family.”

  Anyone else sing that aloud? It’s always what ends up stuck in my head when I view the film. This being something that has had its fair share of adaptations and round about way of casts compiling to make the family where weird, is relative. The directorial debut by Barry Sonnenfeld being the best by far. The show was great in that it at least gave us a family in the same context of The Munsters but instead of them having to be different outright, felt more in their realm of a comfortably offbeat manner (I get it). May come as no surprise that Tim Burton was originally set to direct, having worked previously with both writers. I can’t imagine him doing any wrong with the film having such an already strong cast that ultimately is why I believe this adaptation is able to last and be as memorable. A hard act to follow in that even the sequel could not compete and made 65 million less than its preceding film.

  We begin with the unapologetic family (full in motion) ready to bring in the holidays by sharing a blend of special brew with the carolers that have decided to pollute their front door. The next morning loyal friend “Thing” accompanies Gomez (Raul Julia) who speaks on it being 25 years and still having heard no word of brother Fester (Christopher Lloyd) whereabouts. We meet children Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley, (Jimmy Workman) who seem to have a vicious way of playing with one another. Lovers Morticia and Gomez occupied with the lust felt for one another over anything else. The Addams lawyer Tulley (Dan Hedaya) having hopes of getting a piece of the Addams fortune with no such luck and not enough braun to pull off on his own. Confronted by loan shark Abigail (Elizabeth Wilson) who had taken in the long-lost brother, unaware of the family he had kept waiting. Saving his rear and coming up with a plan with Gordon almost passing as a twin and sure that the family would fall for it. Adjustment taking longer than expected when it seems the woman of the house begins to suspect foul play. Everything changing once they throw a going away party for Fester where he’s able to reconnect with twins Flora and Fauna and dance the Mamushka with Gomez; all too much for “mother” Craven. Going forward with evacuating the family in order to have everything left to Fester to be left with more than enough. The family being forced to stay in a Motel with Morticia reading stories to preschoolers and the children selling “lemonade” as their father mourned and became addicted to daytime television. All is not lost when Fester finally realizes where truly belonging and turns the table on Abigail and Tully and ends their tale of Halloween as they gather round the cemetery to play “Wake the Dead.”

  Granted, once you’ve already accustomed yourself to the awesome like qualities that encompass this family, it may be difficult to find the “normal” ones as engaging throughout. They do replace the grandmother in the sequel and while I know Carol Kane from more movies, Judith Malina was a much better fit. They didn’t get discussed much but the relationship between the children was my second favorite thing about the movie. Most siblings want to kill each other anyway, why not make a fun game out of it? Though if I’m being honest, it was mainly Wednesday that I found entertaining. She had the best lines of the two and was constantly taking advantage of how moronic her brother was, gladly partaking in games called “Is there a God?” and her sharp wit that didn’t hold back. It’s certainly tiring to be so used to one depiction of how girls/woman are or should act, because I know I sure as heck don’t fit into a Barbie mode and that has never been my intention. The same reason I think Daria is awesome and thank Lydia for being proud to be, “strange and unusual.” Lurch and Thing being essential to the image of the Addams. They don’t talk so not a whole lot to say about them; I do like when Thing tries to warn Gomez and is signing so fast that he has to grab the spoon and Morse code the rest. I also liked the clock they show once the credits are done and how Thing starts his day meeting up with Gomez. Christopher Lloyd had already made his career and was well-known as a great character actor. If anything these being the films that started his, almost full transition into “kid” movies and was somewhat of a main character for both Addams films. My favorite thing about the film being the relationship between Morticia and Gomez. They were the ones that set the tone for the rest of their family, the way in which they lived and fed off each other’s devotion was that perfected what I imagined them visually. Raul Julia being devilish handsome and Anjelica Huston having frightened me with her role in The Witches, making for an elegant yet obscure allure that was quite a perfect match. I mean, did anyone see Addams Family Reunion? It was just awful. 

  The film was sure to wave to the previous show with nods all around. Some of my favorite scenes being the play that Wednesday and Pugsley put on at school. Complete BS in that the whole place would really be in outrage after the blood sprayed all over the front row but I did enjoy the response received in return from everyone. Another being when Gomez was venting while playing with his trains. There’s a part when they show the inside of the train and a man is reading his paper while Gomez is in the background, maniacally laughing, it’s always such a funny sight. Lastly being when the children sell lemonade at their stand and are approached by a girl scout, who happened to get a part in sequel. But the bit that happens between her and Wednesday was great in how the girl scout just walks away, admitting defeat.

The story behind the movie being coincidental and “silly” but if that’s what you’re questioning while viewing, perhaps this is not a film for you. Seeing the family as they interact, it is clearly the women of the house that have themselves more together than that of the men. Their lawyer, working closely with Gomez, would have had to realize and in the back of his mind wished to have a scheme good enough to work. The fact that the loan shark he owed money to found Fester being a stretch that was easy to overlook considering. Morticia caught on early of him being off in his own way; Wednesday as well having questioned him on the Bermuda Triangle, a favorite of hers to study and unaware of this woman’s intentions with her family. Was I the only one that questioned the relationship between the Uncle and Abigail? Him having spent time with the family and finally finding his way home was a nice way to end a sad tale as they family had been in mourning the entire time. Ultimately the family having the same values of being together and there for one another as would most others; they simply march to the beat of a different drum.