The Addams step out of Charles Addams' cartoons. They live with all of the trappings of the macabre (including a detached hand for a servant) and are quite wealthy. Added to this mix is a crooked accountant and his loan shark and a plot to slip in the shark's son into the family as their long lost Uncle Fester. Can the false Fester find his way into the vault before he is discovered?Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Charles Addams' dark characters get the film treatment in Barry Sonnenfeld's THE ADDAMS FAMILY, which is something of a cross between the actual New Yorker comics and the 1960s television show. Not trying to lean too far to either, the movie stays at a safe plane, even incorporating a vague plot involving two grifters, Gordon and Abigail Craven, posing as Uncle Fester and a renowned psychiatrist (Christopher Lloyd and Elizabeth Wilson) who are in cahoots to rob the Addams of their fortune and house. The problem arises when Craven seems to go against his take-the-money-and-run attitude and when the Addams themselves appear to enjoy every minute that they're being taken advantage of. It suits the dark humor well, because since the Addams live in an alternative universe of their own creation in which dark is light, repugnant is beautiful, pain equals pleasure, death is life, and chaos equals order, it leaves the door open for many of their Gothic eccentricities to pull the rug over Lloyd and Wilson over and over again. It's clever, although its only problem is the "needing to introduce the characters we all know" setup which like in all movies based on comics or television shows, looks obvious.
But despite this, everyone is uniformly excellent. Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston lend their looks to embody their cartoon counterparts and are the romantics at the heart of this decidedly perverse story. Christopher Lloyd is also great in his representation of Uncle Fester. But hands down: the one who walks away with the entire movie is Christina Ricci who plays Wednesday as if she were living the role day by day. There's a sadistic gleam in her eyes and her voice that not many child actors have and I think that any other actor of the time that this film was made would have been unable to fit into this difficult part. Other than that, the tone of the movie is perfect: as dark as it wants to be, but never letting its Gothic setting drown it in an inescapable mire. On the contrary, we're constantly aware that this is a typical American family who lives upside down and who are happy in being so even when we gawk and cringe at their oddities.
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