Comedy Oddities: Addams Family Reunion

Addams Family Reunion indexOpening with a daft bit of nonsense with a nervous mailman who clearly has good reason to be afraid when it comes to delivering post to the Addams Family, from the beginning we can see that this is a very different affair to the films Barry Sonnefeld directed. They were uniquely stylish affairs with a sublime cast and a dark sense of humour, whereas this is absurdly cartoonish and brightly lit and stays that way for most of the movie.

Carel Struycken returns as Lurch and Christopher Hart’s hand is on screen as Thing, but otherwise we’ve a brand new cast and perhaps unsurprisingly they don’t live up to the originals. Tim Curry is the closest the film gets and his Gomez is largely very likeable, though he fails to replicate Raul Julia’s charm and often camps it up, while also lacking in subtlety is Daryl Hannah as Morticia who plays it in a quite vampish manner, smirking and smiling far too often. Oddest of all is Patrick Thomas as Fester who portrays Gomez’s brother as if he were a stand up comedian / prankster from New Jersey, and it’s one of the worst pieces of acting I’ve ever seen. And as for the kids, well, they were young and did their best and I don’t wish to be cruel and so won’t say anything further.

The first movie in the series suffered from some slightly uneven pacing and it appears that director Dave Payne (of Alien Terminator fame, a film so bad that it makes this look, well, vaguely competent in comparison at least) was inspired by that. The extremely slight plot involves Gomez and co heading off to a family reunion blissfully unaware that everyone else is an Adams and so not related to them in the slightest but it’s fairly bland and definitely not something that should have been stretched out to a film that’s almost an hour and a half.

One vague set piece after another follows as the family hang out with normal people (including a hammy Ed Begley Jr who is usually in fare much better than this) and confuse each other, Fester shaves an old man’s hair in to a mohawk for reasons that are never explained and then spends the rest of the movie chasing after his mutated dog, and Gomez’s actual grandparents are acting in a deeply normal manner which upsets everyone enormously, but don’t get too engaged with that storyline as the film all but forgets about it for large chunks of the running time.

There’s also a subplot where two of the Adams family end up in the Addams Family mansion with Granny and Cousin Itt and almost die in a lot in unfunny ways, Lurch saves a woman from drowning and then stalks her in his sleep, and Wednesday (Nicole Fugere) and Pusgley (Jerry Messing) get to hang out with some normal kids and annoy them, but as with so many of the aforementioned storylines it often feels an afterthought, as if they hadn’t really considered how to deal with all of these characters. Visually it’s strangely annoying too, Dave Payne loves zooming his camera in and out at fast speeds which quickly becomes irksome, and the special effects would have been embarrassing in the seventies, let alone the nineties.

Tim Curry gets to do some amusing enough physical comedy and there is the occasional decent joke, like when a kid asks “Pugsley, what kind of stupid name is that?” and Wednesday hits back with “It’s Slavic for stomach pump” and it’s delivered in a bluntly funny way. Some of the violent moments are mildly amusing too, and Ray Walston has a fun cameo as the Adams patriarch who clearly hates his family.

Anyone who enjoyed the first two films in the series should go in to this with the lowest of expectations, but even then they’d most likely be disappointed. The producers went on to create a shortly lived tv series off the back of it (though the only returning cast member was Nicole Fugere) but judging by this I’ll never watch a single second of it. Still, despite all of its faults, of which they are many, it’s better than the 2019 animated version, so, um, that’s something I guess? 

★★

Alex Finch.

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