Friday Flicks: The Addams Family

8 Jun
Friday flicks. Retrospective reviews from the trashy, forgotten, or out-right daft, world of film.

Directed by Barry Sonnefeld. Screenplay by Caroline Thompson and Larry Wilson. Starring Raúl Juliá, Angelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, and Christina Ricci.

Like a moldering corpse dredged up by some shady resurrectionist, the release of Men in Black 3 has found me mulling over Barry Sonnefeld’s career. He was always the poor man’s Tim Burton (at least until Burton’s inexorable decay set in), but Sonnefeld possesses a knack for great casting (or at least decent luck), and skill enough to present the macabre with twinklings of black humour. With all that in mind. Ladies and gentlemen, for your viewing pleasure, may I present the albatross around Christina Ricci’s neck… The Addams Family!

Dun nun nun nun. Dun nun nun nun. Dun nun nun nun, nun nun nun nun, nun nun nun nun.
*Click, click*

Why should you watch it? Because of Angelica Huston and Raúl Juliá, of course! Juliá bristles with vitality, Huston slinks and both have the time of their lives hamming it up, whilst Christopher Lloyd does what he does best, aside from mispronouncing gigawatt. I’m sorry, I’ve never been able to like him thanks to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Every cast member seems to relish their roles; breezing past cheesy one liners and the occassionally clunky attempts at subversion, making you wish you had more time to get to know them all.

According to urban legend the original Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoons were used to gauge sanity, or lack thereof, in asylums. A good story, though it isn’t true. Still it’s close enough to Addams’ humour that it comes as no surprise that the wacky TV show became a source of chagrin: I’m not altogether sure what he’d have made of the film.  In true 90s fashion, The Addams Family attempts to take no prisoners in its all out assault, desperately trying to re-establish the titular clan as an endearing bunch of deeply deviant, psychotic homicidal maniacs. It succeeds in the endearing steaks, but it’s also commercial, unsubtle and at times a little dumb. If there is a problem with this film it’s that… well, it’s not golden age Tim Burton.

For a story about nutjobs, intrigue and occasional vivisepulture, the whole thing is surprisingly wholesome. Sure the Addamses have always had heart, but let’s see that heart where it belongs, on a plate. Still beating. Sonnefeld tries a little too hard to be twisted, when others like Burton or Gaiman seem to find it effortless. The plot moves at a breakneck speed and it is dark , but the Addams are still quintessentially a nuclear family with very American values.  Oh, and because it’s the 90s, and a Barry Sonnefeld film, there’s some sort of ‘rap’ over the credits.  Altogether the Addams Family (*click, click*) could have been a little more bewitching, but it’ll still raise  a few laughs, and it’s impossible not to love the cast.

The Addams Family  (*click, click*), the antidote to perky goths everywhere!

Angelica Huston just glows like that. It’s her thing.

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