I remember The Addams Family as being a fun and at the time high profile movie that I watched on a number of occasions in the 90s. This is also a movie that in my opinion seems somewhat to be forgotten. It’s not a movie you find easily in the local video stores these days. But luckily there’s always the internet and so I revisited this movie to see how it holds itself up after 20 years.
The Addams Family is a Tim Burton movie not directed by Tim Burton. The whole Gothic style implemented here is something straight out of a Tim Burton movie. I could even see Tim doing a remake with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter as Gomez and Morticia Addams. In 1991 they were played by the late Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston who have enormous fun with the material, material the mostly consists about one-liners, punchlines and sight gags revolved around a simple story about a couple of small time criminals who’re trying to take the Addams Family’s fortune by reuniting Gomez with his long lost brother Fester. One of the criminals poses to be Fester due to his likeness but when he actually starts to enjoy the Addams’ way of life he’s not so sure if he wants to go through with this scheme.
The Addams Family is portrayed by actors who all seem to have fun with the stuff they’re given. Christopher Lloyd creates a memorable Fester looking nothing like his other famous character: Doc Brown from the Back To The Future movies. The movie will also be famous for intruding the world to Christina Ricci who plays Wednesday Addams, the daughter of the family who is always experimenting with new ways to maim her brother. In one scene she goes after her brother with a knife when her mother asks her what she’s doing. When responding truthfully her mother takes the knife and gives her an ax. Most of the gags in The Addams Family revolves around them being entertained by things that disgust normal people. There is some great stuff here, but with an hour and a half running time it becomes repetitive at certain points.
If there’s one cast member who people always forget to mention it’s the house. The mansion with all it’s living plants, cemetery, a thousand and one hallways and hidden rooms. It even has a place for a gondola and has a lot of traps. Probably by coincidence, but in 1991 another movie was released with a similar interactive mansion. The very bad “Nothing But Trouble” featuring Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd and Demi Moore.
Despite the repetition the gags are timeless and pop culture references are pretty much non-existent. This makes The Addams Family for a good viewing even today. The only things that actually are dated are the special effects. Made in the pre-digital era a lot of the effects are practical, though acceptable at the time, some of the effects look forced and fake, especially the effects of Thing, who is nothing more than a hand with a personality.
Other than the effects and the repetition of the material I still had a nice trip down memory lane, visiting a Gothic family I had not seen in a long time.