MovieMonday: The Addams Family

Someday there may be another Addams family movie that is worth watching.  This is not that film.

As everybody born within the last 90 years knows, the Addams family — Morticia, Gomez, Wednesday and Pugsley — are just like the rest of us except they live on the dark side.  They enjoy spiders and mummies and blasting caps and crossbows.  They are devotees of the macabre.

Ever since Charles Addams sold his first cartoon about these people to the New Yorker in the late 1930s, people have enjoyed the contrast in print, on television and in movies.  Addams-style humor also has been applied to various monsters and Transylvanians.

Since the last movie about this group was dropped in 1993, it was time for another one.  What seems to have happened is that a bunch of B-list writers and animation artists assembled a weak plot sprinkled with flat humor that is not funny enough to generate laughs or even chuckles.  And it got made into a bad movie.

About 15 minutes after the movie began, I started checking my watch.  I wanted to leave but stuck it out to the end.  Now let’s talk about this hot mess.

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This film opens with Morticia and Gomez’ wedding, a Goth-to-the-max affair that so irritates narrow-minded yokels that they form a pitchfork brigade and chase the poor newlyweds out of town.
The couple end up “somewhere horrible, somewhere corrupt, somewhere where no one in their (sic) right mind would be caught dead in.”  Yep, it’s New Jersey.
Along the way the they find Lurch, an escapee from an abandoned insane asylum (huh?) lying on the road.  Then they travel up the road and find their dream home — the dark, empty asylum itself.
Then the focus shifts to 13 years later.  Daughter Wednesday and son Pugsley have joined the family, which has not stepped out of its house or sent its children to school but is planning a get-together with relatives two weeks hence for Pugsley’s “mazurka” (apologies to Chopin), an Addams tradition in which the lad will demonstrate his swordplay skills.
Then, all of a sudden, the Addamses realize they are not alone, and that there is a neighborhood of less eccentric humans just down the road.  At the same time, those humans notice there is a creepy old house up at the top of a hill.  Who knew?
Turns out the normal town is called Assimilation and was built by one of those television decorators, Margaux Needler.  It is the sort of place where children sing and dance to a catchy song whose lines include “What’s so great about being yourself when you can be like everybody else?”
Margaux hoists her enormous blonde coif up the hill, introduces herself to Morticia and Gomez and  explains that their “off-brand” home needs to be updated so as not to frustrate her planned sale of the 50 houses she has developed in her adorable, pink-streeted town.
Tensions arise, and there is conflict.  Ultimately, comity (but not comedy) prevails.
So the story is about tolerance.  The Assimilationists are intolerant of the Addams family, and, to be fair, sometimes the Addamses are a little intolerant themselves, but not so much as their newfound neighbors.  Tolerance, of course, is a brand new, never-before-considered lesson that all of us can take to heart.
As for the film’s script, the gags are weak and often strained, and the antics of the 3-D animation characters are not fun to watch even though those characters are “voiced” by famous entertainers.
Honestly, theaters should pay moviegoers to watch dreck like this, but what do I know?  People bought $30 million in tickets last weekend.
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Those who are not acquainted with Addams family history may enjoy a recent and under-edited article, The Cultural History of “The Addams Family“, on Smithsonian.com.


The article covers the bases and then concludes:   “The latest film looks to be, technologically at least, as far from the Charles Addams originals as Cousin Itt is from a barber.”

In case you had forgotten Itt, a character introduced not by the original artist but in a 1960s television series, he is depicted at right.  For some reason his vocals were done by Snoop Dogg.  No typecasting there, but no humor either.

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