The Addams Family stars Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, and Christopher Lloyd and was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. It’s an adaptation of the 1960s tv show of the same name and tells the story of the very morbid and strange Addams family after a long-lost relative mysteriously returns home. As most of you probably already know, I’ve been a fan of horror and spooky stuff in general since I was a little kid. Books, movies, tv shows if it was creepy, I ate it up.
During the early and mid 90s, there was certainly no shortage of kid-aimed horror content and I watched just about all of it. So many movies became annual Halloween staples for me, including The Addams Family and its sequel. I watched this movie a lot during my childhood, but strangely my most significant Addams Family memories actually come from the tv show. When I was little, I watched reruns of a lot of older tv shows from the 50s and 60s.
The Munsters and Zorro were probably my favorites, but I also used to enjoy The Addams Family too. And so even though I likely saw the movie first, the show was a bit more memorable to me and I think largely drove my enjoyment of the movie as a kid. Revisiting movies from your childhood can be an exciting thing, but it can also be disappointing.
Cause our tastes change, but our memories also have a tendency to inflate things from our past. Personally, I’ve been lucky with that cause most of the things I loved to watch as a kid, I continued to watch as I grew up, so I never really lost touch with them. And even the ones that did manage to slip through the cracks have mostly been pleasant revisits as an adult. But, on very rare occasions, I come across a movie that just doesn’t hold up for me like it used to. And I’m saddened to say The Addams Family falls into that latter category.
I realized this about five years ago and I kind of thought it was a fluke; that maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood rewatching it. But, I’ve tried it a couple times since then with the same result. It definitely has some nostalgic components for me and I guess I like the movie more than I dislike it, but it feels very middle-of-the-road for me now, which is sad cause I used to like this movie a lot. I still love Wednesday and her little quips, I still really love Thing ñ that Morse Code scene always makes me smile.
I appreciate how dark and weird this movie is. Like a lot of other kid’s movies from the time, this has got a lot of things that you could never get away with in a kid’s movie anymore. Mostly related to Gomez and Morticia’s passionate relationship, but a lot of the dialogue is out there too. So, even though it’s certainly aimed at kids, this movie has a layer of more adult humor to keep it entertaining for any age. Much of that comes from little things just briefly in the background of shots that are easily missed if you’re not paying attention.
Things like Alcatraz pennants on the walls of Fester’s room or a brief shot of Grandmama cooking with two books open in front of her: The Joy of Cooking and Gray’s Anatomy. Although I have a handful of minor issues with the movie, I think I finally figured out why it’s so disappointing to me now: the plot. The characters are great, the performances are memorable, but the whole Fester fraud plot is just incredibly dull and a waste of The Addams Family premise.
The whole point of The Addams Family is that they’re weird. They’re the antithesis of the normal American family. All of the morbid and morose things they like seem weird to normal people and the stuff we consider normal is absurd and strange to the Addams’. The whole premise is predicated on that culture clash and the moments that focus on it here are where the movie shines: the scenes at the school, the Girl Scout interaction, even the family party with Margaret in attendance. The movie is most enjoyable when normal people are around to react to the Addams’ strangeness. Unfortunately, the whole Fester plot is so internalized that we lose most of that.
The movie has its moments, but isn’t particularly satisfying as a whole for me anymore. Alright, let’s talk about the pros and cons. Pro number one has gotta be the characters. Obviously they’re adapted from the tv show and the New Yorker cartoon before that, but (with the exception of Fester), I think everybody completely nails it. Christina Ricci is the perfect Wednesday and Julia and Huston are totally believable as the macabrely passionate Gomez and Morticia. As a whole, all the characters are creepy and their kooky. Mysterious and spooky and they’re all together ooky. I mean, they’re The Addams Family. The second pro is the dark humor. It was always enjoyable to me as a kid, but I think I actually like this aspect a lot more as an adult cause I actually get all the jokes now.
There are so many things in this movie that just fly over your head when you’re young and there are even quite a few sight gags that are easy to miss if you’re not paying close enough attention. As far as cons go, the biggest issue has gotta be the Fester plotline. It gets the job done, I suppose, but it’s a strangely dull storyline to incorporate into something as rife with potential as The Addams Family. Rather than having them deal with an equally peculiar character I would’ve much rather seen them interacting with ìnormalî people more frequently.
That’s where the entertainment of this premise lies and it was sorely underused here. The second con for me is the pacing. As dull as the Fester plot is, the movie does move at a pretty good rate for the first two acts. But then the third act hits and it just drags on and on. It’s like it becomes a different movie for 20 minutes or so before wrapping up in a wacky finale that does feel in-line with the rest of the movie. It’s not a major issue or anything, but definitely something that stood out to me this time.
I’m gonna give The Addams Family 2.5 out of 5 paws. Like I said, I used to really like this movie, so it pains me to give it such a mediocre score, but it just feels very average to me now ñ especially the whole Fester fraud plot. I would recommend The Addams Family to fans of 90s kid-oriented horror. It still has the charm of that particular era and even though I don’t find it as good as I used to, I imagine others who liked it as kids will still love it now. Fans of the 60s show will also likely enjoy at least certain aspects of it. If you liked The Addams Family, I would recommend Beetlejuice.
It has a similar edginess to its dark humor and is another generally strange movie from the same era. If you liked the kid-horror aspects and want to see Christina Ricci in another brooding role, I’d suggest Casper. It’s a little less weird than this one, but definitely still has some darkness to it. And if you just really liked these Addams Family characters, you might want to check out The Addams Family Values which picks up with this group a year or two after the events of this film. Alright, a couple questions for you guys.
Number one: Have you seen The Addams Family? If so, what’d you think of it? And number two: What’s a movie from your childhood that just doesn’t hold up for you anymore? Be sure to leave your answers in the comments below so we can get a discussion going.