Despite inspired casting and nifty visual trappings, the eagerly awaited Addams Family figures as a major disappointment. First-time director Barry Sonnenfeld never really gets past the skeletal plot, which plays like a collection of sitcom one-liners augmented by feature-film special effects. Script is one visual joke or pun after another based on the decidedly different family Charles Addams created in his New Yorker cartoons. The ABC TV series ran from 1964 to 1966.
The performers work gamely, but how many times are we expected to laugh at Morticia (Anjelica Huston) speaking wistfully about torture or Gomez (Raul Julia) imploring the disembodied digits Thing to ‘lend a hand?’
The disjointed plot turns on the long-missing Uncle Fester and an attempt by the family lawyer (Dan Hedaya) to cash in on Fester’s absence – and gain access to Gomez’s hidden fortune – by passing off the son of a loan-sharking client (Elizabeth Wilson) as Fester. After becoming acclimated to the ooky-kooky-spooky clan, the son (Christopher Lloyd) grows increasingly fond of them, prompting his conspirators to engage in drastic tactics.
The only moment that lives up to the film’s potential involves tots Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) enacting a scene from Hamlet for the school talent show. Huston is properly ethereal as Morticia, and Julia makes a swashbuckling Gomez, though neither can do much with the roles. Ricci is a perfect, somber Wednesday.
1991: Nomination: Best Costume Design