The Addams Family (1991)

reviewed by
Kenneth E. Mohnkern

                                   THE ADDAMS FAMILY
                       A film review by Kenneth E. Mohnkern
                        Copyright 1991 Kenneth E. Mohnkern

Here's another recommendation for THE ADDAMS FAMILY. It's not the greatest movie of all time, but it's worth the matinee price. I couldn't imagine ahead of time what sort of plot they might give us, but it really wasn't too bad. There *is* a plot, but it's not the important thing here. Don't see this movie for the plot. Sit back and enjoy the good performances.

Raul Julia is terrific as Gomez, energetic, swashbuckling, romantic (swooning over Morticia at her every French word). Angelica Huston (Morticia) is also quite good, but I thought Christina Ricci stole the show as Wednesday. Straightfaced, intense, but she's a little kid all the way - mischievous and playful. She's got a future in film. (She was also in MERMAIDS.) The reason I had looked forward to seeing this was Huston and Julia. If they had cast Cher (the original choice for Morticia) and Mel Gibson (or whoever) to star, it wouldn't be nearly as good.

Others - the woman who played the nasty mother; Dan Hedeya, the sleazy family lawyer; and even Christopher Lloyd as Fester - seemed to be pretty flat and stereotypical here. That may be why the film started to drag a bit for me in the middle, as we saw the evil plan unfolding. We saw less of the great characters and more of the 2-D bad guys.

Director Barry Sonnenfeld (cinematographer for MILLER'S CROSSING and RAISING ARIZONA) does a pretty good job in his first directorship. The camera has as much playful energy and vitality as the Addamses. There are plenty of "point-of-view" shots, several with Thing (the best performance by a hand I've seen). The trip to the vaults is well done -- spinning, falling, floating through mist. And you've got to stay aware -- there's always a choice tidbit going on the in the background. (Granny: "Here, Kitty.")

I have to agree that the highlight of the film is the school talent show with all the parents in the audience and children onstage singing "Getting to Know You," followed by Wednesday and Pugsly showing their swordfighting abilities, Wednesday delivering a poetry-laden death scene.

There were plenty of kids in the theater. It's a film you can take them to, without having your intelligence insulted.

Obligatory "favorite scenes" follow:

There are plenty of great lines, and as many great visuals, but here are a couple:

The driveway gate has closed on Tulley's coat. He's struggling to get free. Morticia (looking out the window, noting who's come to visit): "It's Tulley, playing with Gate."

The opening shot, carolers in front of the house. Camera travels up the face of the house, revealing The Addams Family, practicing a holiday tradition.

The next shot, a closeup of the Addams' cuckoo clock with little animated members of the family all over it. Meet, bend, smooch.

     Check it awt.
ken mohnkern # the graphics deli # the robotics institute #
             # carnegie mellon university # pittsburgh pa #

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