The Addams Family
PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
Gomez Addams (Raúl Juliá) laments the 25-year absence of his brother Fester, who disappeared after the two had a falling-out. Gomez’s lawyer Tully Alford (Dan Hedaya) owes money to loan shark Abigail Craven (Elizabeth Wilson), and notices that her son Gordon (Christopher Lloyd) closely resembles Fester. Tully proposes that Gordon pose as Fester to infiltrate the Addams household and find the hidden vault where they keep their vast riches. Tully and his wife Margaret (Dana Ivey) attend a séance at the Addams home led by Grandmama (Judith Malina) in which the family tries to contact Fester’s spirit. Gordon arrives, posing as Fester, while Abigail poses as psychiatrist Dr. Pinder-Schloss and tells the family that Fester had been lost in the Bermuda Triangle for the past 25 years.
Gomez, overjoyed to have Fester back, takes him to the family vault to view home movies from their childhood. Gordon learns the reason for the brothers’ falling-out: Gomez was jealous of Fester’s success with women, and wooed the conjoined twins Flora and Fauna Amore away from him out of envy. Gomez starts to suspect that “Fester” is an impostor when he is unable to recall important details about their past. Gordon attempts to return to the vault, but is unable to get past a booby trap. Gomez’s wife Morticia (Anjelica Huston) reminds “Fester” of the importance of family amongst the Addamses and of their vengeance against those who cross them. Fearing that the family is getting wise to their con, Abigail (under the guise of Dr. Pinder-Schloss) convinces Gomez that his suspicions are due to displacement.
Gordon grows closer to the Addams family, particularly the children Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman), whom he helps to prepare a swordplay sequence for a school play. The Addamses throw a large party with their extended family and friends to celebrate Fester’s return, during which Abigail plans to break into the vault. Wednesday overhears Abigail and Gordon discussing their scheme, and escapes them by hiding in the family cemetery. Tully learns that Fester, as the eldest brother, is the executor of the Addams estate and therefore technically owns the entire property. With the help of the Addamses’ neighbor Judge George Womack (Paul Benedict), who Gomez has repeatedly angered by hitting golf balls at his house, Tully procures a restraining order against the family banning them from the estate. Gomez attempts to fight the order in court, but Judge Womack rules against him out of spite.
While Abigail, Gordon, and Tully try repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get past the booby trap blocking access to the vault, the Addams family is forced to move into a motel and find jobs. Morticia tries at being a preschool teacher, Wednesday and Pugsley sell toxic lemonade, and Thing—the family’s animate disembodied hand—becomes a courier. Gomez, despondent, sinks into depression and lethargy.
Morticia returns to the Addams home to confront Fester and is captured by Abigail and Tully, who torture her in an attempt to learn how to access the vault. Thing observes this and informs Gomez, who gathers the family and rushes to Morticia’s rescue. Abigail threatens Morticia’s life if Gomez does not surrender the family fortune. Fed up with his mother’s behavior and constant berating, Gordon turns against Abigail. Using a magical book which projects its contents into reality, he unleashes a hurricane in the house, which strikes his own head with lightning and launches Tully and Abigail out a window and into open graves dug for them by Wednesday and Pugsley.
Gordon turns out to actually have been Fester all along, having suffered amnesia after being lost in the Bermuda Triangle and turning up in Miami, where Abigail had taken him in. The lightning strike has restored his memory and he is enthusiastically welcomed back into the Addams household. With the family whole again, Morticia informs Gomez that she is pregnant.
When this movie first came out, all I know about the Addams were that they were some creepy family that occasionally popped up in old Scooby Doo cartoons. After this was released, though, I remember that there was a new cartoon and the original show started airing again. However, it wasn’t until recently that I finished every episode. Does The Addams Family stack up to the original?
What did I like?
Faithfulness. If you’ve ever seen the original series, then you will notice that these characters, for the most part, stay faithful to their classic TV roots. This isn’t to say that there aren’t exceptions, for instance, it seems as if Wednesday and Pugsley’s mannerisms have been switched a bit, with a bit more cruelty added to her, and then of course Fester is different, but that is part of the plot. There is even a scene with Gomez’s trains. The only thing missing was the stock footage of Kitty Kat.
Wednesday. Speaking of Wednesday, this is the film that brought us Christina Ricci, and for that I am ever so grateful.
Casting. I have to say that they got the perfect casting for the most part. Raul Julia as Gomez is every bit as flamboyant, albeit more subdued than John Astin. Anjelica Huston captures everything we know and love about Morticia (except for those killer curves!!!) Fester, for all the changes they’ve made, seems to be the same old Fester, though it is kind of hard to tell since he isn’t the same guy as the series.
Story. I liked the story for the most, though, I think it would have been much better without the focus being on Fester so much.
What didn’t I like?
Change is not always for the best. They changed the relationship with Fester and Gomez to make them brothers, whereas in the original TV series he is Morticia’s uncle. I am not sure which is the true relationship.
Lurch Itt. Two of the major characters in every incarnation this family has been in have been Lurch and Cousin Itt. This one, though, relegates Lurch to a couple of scenes, none of which allow him to say his famous line, “You rang?” As for Cousin Itt, he pops up for a couple of scenes, which isn’t bad, since he isn’t in every episode, but a little more of Itt would have been nice.
Bermuda triangle induced amnesia. So, Fester apparently gets lost in the Bermuda Triangle and gets amnesia. That sounds a bit soap opera-ish, but I can live with it. My issue is how they rushed the explanation at the film’s end. It reminded me a bit of how they used to wrap up thing in the final scenes of The A-Team back when it was on the air. It just seemed tacked on to tie up some loose ends, but you really could have lived without it.
The Addams Family is a good flick that will please everyone, including those of us that prefer things to stay close to the source material. As a matter of fact, the show didn’t even stick this close to the source material. While I would have liked for it to have been more slapstick comedic, it works for what it is. Man, here’s a thought…imagine if Tim Burton would have directed this. Wow! Anyway, I highly recommend this to everyone!
4 out of 5 stars