I like my women like I like my movies; unusual, funny and
only around for about an hour and a half always there when I need them. Addams Family is that special breed of movie. I watch movies to avoid facing a paralyzing fear of intimacy be entertained and this movie does just that. Its a wonderful early 90’s popcorn flick thats totally undeserving of its relatively low ratings. It has everything you could ask for from a slick mainstream Hollywood picture; stylish visuals, solid writing, loads of personality and incredibly fun cast performances.
I’m willing to bet all the criticisms of a weak story and wandering direction are coming from burned out reviewers who have long lost their ability to enjoy a fun movie with a simple premise. The movie follows the weird and wonderful Addams family as con artist and his mother pose as their long lost Uncle Fester and his doctor in order to steal the families sizable fortune. While Director Barry Sonnenfeld has a voice and pace that is clearly his own, its hard to deny the vaguely Tim Burton-esque feel and thats because there was a pretty respectable cast of Burton alumni involved in the production. The screenplay was written by Larry Wilson (Beetlejuice) and Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands), the visual effects supervisor was Alan Munro (Beetlejuice) and art director was Margie Stone McShirley (Pee-wee’s Big Adventure).
The Addams mansion with its secret doors and magical furnishings is the spooky fun house you wish you grew up in as a kid. There are so many quiet little details injected in that I still see new things every time I watch it. Things like the pulled stop signs in Pugsley’s room and the sword holes in Gomez’ study door were things I didn’t catch until an embarrassing number of viewings after my first. They even managed to sneak in nods to the original comic strip and TV series in some of the bits like the strip influenced Christmas flavored opening (It originally opened late November 1991) and the rose head snipping from the TV series. These guys created a world so rich and believable that even an ending as dark as children digging up their dead relatives feels not only natural but heartwarming.
The entire cast puts out some stellar performances and are given just enough screen time to let us get a good feel for their deliciously off beat characters. My only complaint is that with much of the screen time going to Uncle Fester, he’s the only one that gets any real character development. You’re left seriously wanting for more time screen time with the rest of the family. For me, the Addams as a family unit is one of the most endearing aspects of this movie. Too often in mainstream movies there are families featured that feel nothing like the wonderfully
burdensome special thing a family can be. Your typical on-screen family in the early 90’s was an over-worked father, a lonely mother and two shallow children. Conversely, The Addams Family, as ghoulish and twisted as they may appear, are made up of a lo mother and father and two well nurtured children who all live happily a giant mansion with a collection of colorful live-in relatives and help. Which would you choose?
The humor of this movie was something that really resonated with me as a young viewer. I had that dark sense of humor so I lapped up every one of the visual gags and one liners the Addams clan served up. It amazes me, looking back into the early 90s, that all the dark bits with the children playing such lethal games made it into the final cut. This came out in a time when the complaints of parent groups were powerful enough to change a Ninja Turtle’s big screen weapon from a Nunchaku to a sausage link. It was a good movie for a young weirdo to see, it encouraged me to let my freak flag fly, unapologetically. The kids talent show and all the interactions of the parents weren’t a far cry from the things I would have shared if I’d had the intestinal fortitude to get on stage during any of the seemingly endless suburban talent shows of my youth. I like to think that if we all attended the same middle school that Wednesday and Puglsey would be close friends, well at least until we get to highschool and Puglsey walks in on Wednesday and I making out on Aunt LaBorgia’s grave and then there’s a weird rift that takes like all year to patch up then we are friends again when Wednesday goes after some Edward Scissorhands like guy and I have a brief but wild run with an older Elvira type lady.
I miss movies like this. Today’s mainstream machine kicks out entirely too many uninteresting over-intense superhero movies and entirely to few imaginative flicks that leave enough time for the quiet moments. If your ever looking for a rainy day fall movie, hop in the way back machine to a time when they still had movie soundtracks songs that had music videos with the cast of the movie in the videos.