THE ADDAMS FAMILY
Based on Charles Addams' classic characters, this 1991 movie adaptation of The Addams Family was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and was a solid hit for Paramount prompting a sequel and inspiring many other adaptations to this day.
The film sees everyone's favorite family of oddballs attempt to reconnect with long lost uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) who shows up on their doorstep one day out of nowhere. But is he the real Fester? Gomez (Raul Julia) believes this is indeed his brother while Morticia (Anjelica Huston) and daughter Wednesday (Christina Ricci) aren't so sure. Their suspicions are not unfounded as this Fester is very much a fraud and is being manipulated by his mother (Elizabeth Wilson on top form) who wants him to steal the Addams fortune. But why does this phony Fester feel so at home among this weird family? Could this fake, in fact, be more than he seems?
Bringing the classic Addams Family comic strip to life on film without taking a step back into sitcom territory (see Addams Family Reunion for an example of that) while still keeping the sharp one-liners and goofy little vignettes that made the charm of the classic cartoons was certainly one hell of a challenge. And yet, despite a rough production packed with problems, director Barry Sonnenfeld, much like the Addamses themselves, made the impossible possible. Akin to how Tim Burton's Batman reinvented a classic comic-book character, so does this film reinvent the iconic family. Once just a vehicle for tons of silly off-beat jokes to be tied together, now the stars of their own very cinematic movie.
The Addams Family is a gothic treat with top-tier production design and art direction front and center making the bizarre world of this family feel legit. Right down to the disembodied hand (aka Thing) galloping around the corridors of the Addams mansion. Add to that inventive, slick cinematography, a devilishly catchy score, excellent make-up and other effects plus countless fantastic costumes and you've got yourself one great looking/sounding movie. But this movie isn't just a pretty face.
Armed with a hilarious script, the excellent cast delivers jokes effortlessly, including visual gags. But it doesn't stop there, adding emotion and intelligence to these characters we, up until that point, didn't really know that deeply. Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston feel so perfect for these roles, it's shocking they never played them prior to this movie, while Christopher Lloyd tries something a bit different with Uncle Fester and completely nails it. Every other Addams whether it's Christina Ricci's Wednesday, Carel Struycken's Lurch or even Cousin Itt (John Franklin) is a delight but the other main characters also work extremely well as they help sell the idea that the "normal" people around the Addams Family are just as kooky and spooky, if not more so.
It's hard to imagine a better first step into the world of film for the Addams Family: it's very funny, smart, the plot is engaging, the visuals are a delight and the cast is sensational. If you're a fan of the Addams Family it's very likely that it's all thanks to this brilliant adaptation. It certainly is for me.