1 item from 1991
It's hard not to embrace a family whose lineage is psychopaths, fiends, mad-dog killers and other scumwads of the human condition, but this big-screen fill-out of the popular '60s sitcom ''The Addams Family'' is such a murky, amorphous glop that it's likely to wallow up far short of hit status.
Expect the thirtyfivesomething boomers to rekindle high school memories by a trek to the ''Addams'' household, and expect them to find the humor not as fresh as they found it during their wet-behind-the-ears days, and count on the teens and kids to find it, well, too tame and cerebral for their ''Beetlejuiced'' desires.
Orion, err, Paramount will have to generate considerable hocus-pocus to ensnare the 25-35 set -- too young to remember the TV series, too old to appreciate this low-level ghoulery.
Anti-establishment families who make things hot for the stuffy social establishment are always great movie fun and, indeed, this subversively brainy offering gurgles with much the delights of, say, ''You Can't Take It With You.''
The idiosyncratic Addams clan, headed by the slithery mother-father pair of Morticia (Anjelica Huston) and Gomez (Raul Julia) take salubrious delight in spewing hardship not only on their neighbors but on all the dullards and drearmongers in the world.
Their rebellion rears up in the form of aggressive sadism against the bland and the everyday; together with their two-roundfaced urchins Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman), they heap horrors on the lockstep world. ''Addams' '' most delectable moments come in its skewering of conventional behavior.
Rivaling only star Julia's mustache for pencil thinness is Caroline Thompson and Larry Wilson's puny bog of a scenario: An ugly strongarm shark (Christopher Lloyd), bearing a skeletal resemblance to the Addams' long-missing Uncle Fester, masquerades as the long-departed lout to steal the family's gold.
Unfortunately, the plot never properly locks in until 90 minutes of episodic household shenanigans unwind. While these horrific, lighthearted histrionics are sometimes drolly amusing, the story structure is such a hodgepodge that one surmises there are rewrites going on this very minute.
The family members, however, all stand tall in their delectable depravity: Huston, with her face porcelain-pitched with exquisite makeup effects, is an ethereal marvel as the blithely devilish Morticia, while Julia, with his grease-slicked hair and cherubic energy, is a kick as the enthusiastically demented Gomez. As their grim, grunty offspring, Workman and Ricci capture perfectly the energetic runtiness of maturing psychopaths. Lloyd's Uncle Fester is a highpoint; his manic glimmer and hulky menace is souped-up to just the right crazy concoction.
Under Barry Sonnenfeld's proper but overrestrained direction, the film is shot with appropriate dimness: One must credit director of photography Owen Roizman for the cloistered, subterranean look to the proceedings. Unfortunately, the ''Addams' '' gothic charm is sabotaged by its stylized waxy look: The sets, most prominently the family's graveyard, resemble more a chintzy theme park than a shrewdly subversive set design.
Among ''The Addams Family, '' there are many well-realized technical contributions: principally composer March Shaiman, whose searing sounds counterpoint the comedy with horror, and makeup designer Fern Buchner, whose striking colorations tinge the ghoulery with whimsy.
THE ADDAMS FAMILY
A Scott Rudin Production
A Barry Sonnenfeld Film
Producer Scott Rudin
Director Barry Sonnenfeld
Screenwriters Caroline Thompson, Larry Wilson
Based on the characters created by Charles Addams
Executive producer Graham Place
Director of photography Owen Roizman
Production designer Richard MacDonald
Editors Dede Allen, Jim Miller
Music Marc Shaiman
Costume designer Ruth Myers
Co-producer Jack Cummins
Casting David Rubin
Sound mixer Peter F. Kurland
Morticia Addams Anjelica Huston
Gomez Addams Raul Julia
Uncle Fester Addams Christopher Lloyd
Tully Alford Dan Hedaya
Abigail Craven Elizabeth Wilson
Granny Judith Malina
Lurch Carel Struycken
Margaret Alford Dana Ivey
Judge Womack Paul Benedict
Wednesday Addams Christina Ricci
Pugsley Addams Jimmy Workman
Thing Christopher Hart
Running time -- 100 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
(c) The Hollywood Reporter
1 item from 1991
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