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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
While I was channel surfing earlier today, I came across the 1991 Barry Sonnenfeld directed The Addams Family. I haven’t seen this movie since 1991, and I found myself completely taken by the movie and ended up watching the whole thing. Long story short, I really enjoyed it.
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a great and/or groundbreaking movie. I won’t even argue to those who claim it is awful (though, I wouldn’t go that far). The plot is very thin and predictable, the villains are lame, and it is mostly a vehicle for a continuous round of set-ups and one-liners. However, the movie is a lot of fun. The macabre gags are silly and occasionally groan-worthy. However, like the recent Three Stooges film, they are supposed to be. This is the kind of film that you go into expecting such things. Expecting something at some sort of “higher level” would be missing the point of this type of movie.
The thing that really sold the film to me was the performances. They are fantastic. Each actor playing a member of family really throws themselves into the role. Something tells me that this group knew they were they were portraying pop-culture icons and refused to do it half-assed. I usually find that in most film adaptations of old TV shows (which I realize is not exactly the case here), you usually have the actors sleepwalk their way to a paycheck. That is not the case here.
I really need to put a spotlight on the late, great Raúl Juliá. Of the entire cast, he is totally into his character. The manic energy he injects into Gomez Addams is unparalleled. Even the scenes where Gomez is utterly depressed (including a hilarious delivery about not wanting to “miss Gilligan”), Juliá is a complete treat to watch. I honestly cannot imagine any other actor accomplishing what he did.
I liked this movie. It’s weird, goofy, and a whole lot of fun. It isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t need to be. Sonnenfeld brought the perfect tone to a movie like this to play to a wide audience. It worked. This is partially the reason I want to see the upcoming Dark Shadows film as it seems to have the same sort of sensibility about it. If that film is even half as entertaining as The Addams Family is, then I eagerly await it.