My original intention was to ride the weekend boon of Dark Shadows into a Sequel Suicide, but complications have arisen. One, Dark Shadows didn’t do as well as hoped, although I’d love for a project of my making to earn thirty million in one weekend. Two, I just now discovered The Addams Family franchise spawned a third, straight-to-video installment with a completely different cast, save for the return of Carel Struycken as Lurch and Christopher Hart as Thing. This raises the question, does a direct-to-video sequel count in a franchise total? Until we come to a decision, I’d like to amend this series to the more apropos, You Decide… Sequel Suicide?
It’s been twenty-five years since Fester (Christopher Lloyd), brother of Gomez Addams (Raul Julia), went missing. Ever since the falling out which Gomez believes precipitated his disappearance, the Addams clan gathers for a séance led by Granny (Judith Malina) to call to Fester. This year, they get an answer. That’s because Gomez’s lawyer Tully Alford (Dan Hedaya) has discovered that Gordon (Christopher Lloyd), the son of his loan shark Abigail (Elizabeth Wilson), is the spitting image of Fester. Together the trio plots to infiltrate the Addams family using Gordon to get their hands on the family’s countless riches. That is, assuming Gordon can survive life as an Addams.
At first passing, you’d almost think The Addams Family is a Tim Burton film, but it is actually the directorial debut of Barry Sonnenfeld. However, it was penned by two Burton familiars, Caroline Thompson who’s known for Edward Scissorhands and Larry Wilson of Beetlejuice fame. The result of their words and Sonnenfeld’s vision is a film that’s heavily laden with quick quips and visual zingers, but essentially unburdened by anything resembling a compelling plot.
That is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes you simply want to be entertained by the spectacle, to leave your brain at the door and laugh as the monkeys dance. With The Addams Family, I’d advise keeping a sliver of your mind to understand the more elusive, dark-humored jokes, but most of the humor is of the silly, simple variety.
The Addams Family shines because of the cast who delivers every punchline with zeal and conviction. Julia’s unblinking stare and near-maniacal grin would make Gomez so creepy were he not so aloof. The glee he gets from Tully’s dirty pool is infectious as is his joy at Fester’s return. Anjelica Huston is equally delightful as Morticia. Huston makes the most dire and dreadful of possibilities seem pleasant, even alluring. As Wednesday, a young Christina Ricci glares with eyes as wide as saucers from beneath her pigtails, asking ominous questions and taking joy from the grotesque. Her potential in the acting biz really shines through. Whether he’s portraying Gordon or Fester, Lloyd is just plain freaky.
With over twenty years of age on it, The Addams Family doesn’t hold up in every aspect. The humor relies heavily on Thing (Christopher Hart) for many running gags (no pun intended), which now seem to just draw out the runtime more than inspire laughs. Also, I’m not sure if MC Hammer’s Addams Groove made the soundtrack that much more hip then, but it is now as ghastly and out-of-place as the Addamses would be at a summer camp. But that’s a subplot for a different movie. As far as The Addams Family is concerned, this Old Man can still get out there and Mamushka with the best of them.