The Addams Family

A plotless but stylish and very funny revamp of the old TV series, which was never as witty or as elegant as this (despite some grumbling from fans of the show). The movie clearly takes its inspiration from the source ­­ — Charles Addams’ hilariously macabre New Yorker cartoons. In the age of dysfunctional families, the filmmakers have cast the Addamses as the ultimate functional family, despite their fondness for mutilation and masochism. Gomez (Raul Julia, the definition of suave) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston, turning each one-liner into a classic) are blissfully in love –­­ their theme song could be Tom Lehrer’s “Masochism Tango” ­­ — and they indulge their children Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) and Wednesday (Christina Ricci, who in the Addams movies gives the funniest child performances on film). The extended family includes the cannibalistic Granny (Judith Malina), the butler Lurch (Carel Struycken), the amazing Thing, freed from its box (played by the hand of magician Christopher Hart), and Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd), who may or may not be the real Fester ­­ — which is what passes for a story here. Like early Tim Burton, the movie mixes Gothic flamboyance and grisly wit in a satisfying tribute to weirdos. The Hamlet sequence was the single biggest belly-laugh of 1991. Cinematography by Owen Roizman and Gale Tattersall; edited by Dede Allen; score by Marc Shaiman. With John Franklin as Cousin It, Elizabeth Wilson, Dan Hedaya, Dana Ivey, and Paul Benedict. For some reason, Fester’s line “Today I’m just gonna … wander around the house, remembering” cracks me up every time. Paul Rudnick (who wrote the sequel) did an uncredited script polish. This was cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld’s directorial debut; his next was For Love and Money.

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