Review Date: March 10, 2000
Released by: Paramount
Release date: 2/22/2000
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Barry Sonnenfeld's motion picture adaptation of Charles Addams classic cartoons and the subsequent television show, The Addams Family
, is by far one of my favorite films. The Addams Family
was Barry Sonnenfeld's first film and established his reputation for offbeat wacky comedies and he would later go on to make such films as Men in Black
and the recent Wild Wild West
. Paramount has recently released The Addams Family
on DVD, which is sadly only a standard release when this film practically screams Special Edition.
The Addams family is not your everyday average American family. They are anything but normal, in fact they are creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky or at least that's how they are described in The Addam's Family
theme song from the old TV show. To the Addams family the bizarre is normal and the normal is bizarre...once you see the film you'll get the picture. The film's story is about Gomez Addam's (Raul Julia) search for his older brother Fester Addams. For 25 years, Gomez has hoped and prayed for Fester's return, each year attempting to contact him from the beyond and each year having no success. Little does Gomez know that on this stormy night his luck is about to change...
Tully Alford (Dan Hedaya), the crooked Lawyer of the Addams family, has tried to discover the location of the mythical Addams family fortune hidden deep in the family's mansion, but each time he has turned up empty. It seems poor Tully owes a certain loan shark a great deal of money and Tully doesn't have the cash to repay the loan. Mrs. Craven (Elizabeth Wilson), the bitter loan shark, introduces Tully to her son Gordon (Christopher Lloyd) who proceeds to assault him demanding the deadbeat pay up. During the struggle Tully notices Gordon's resemblance to Fester Addams and hatches a scheme to rob the Addams family of their fortune. Tully tells Mrs. Craven the details of the Addams family and Gomez's guilt over Fester's disappearance after he and Gomez got into a fight 25 years ago.
Tully thinks Gomez is gullible enough to believe Gordon is his long lost brother if Gordon shaves his head and dresses like Fester. That night during an annual seance Fester, a.k.a. Gordon, returns to the Addam's household and is immediately welcomed back by an elated Gomez. Having tricked the Addams family and infiltrated the mansion Gordon goes about searching for the hidden vault, but as Gordon will soon discover the Addams family is not as stupid as Tully made them out to be. Both Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) believe that Gordon is a fraud and Morticia (Anjelica Huston), Gomez's wife, is not sure. Soon Tully's brilliant plan begins to fall apart after Gordon begins to develop feelings for the Addams family and starts to struggle with the guilt of robbing them of everything they ever loved.
I'm a huge Addams family fan and I must have seen this film about a hundred times. It's one of my favorite comedies for a number of reasons and it never seems to get old no matter how many times I've seen it. The movie takes a lot of inspiration from both Charles Addam's comics and the 1960's television show and successfully combines the two along with some fresh twists and ideas. The Addams Family
is basically a bizarre family who look as if they just walked off a horror film from the 30s and 40s. Many of the family members are reminiscent of the classic movie monsters of that period including Lurch (the families butler) who looks a lot like Frankenstein and Morticia who bares a resemblance to Dracula's daughter.
The film is a good mixture of horror and comedy, but comedy is definitely the dominant force here. After all The Addams Family
was meant to be funny and not scary. Director Barry Sonnenfield combines special effects with creative camera work to really take the humor to the extreme. Speaking of effects, there are some really cool ones here including "Thing". To the uninitiated, Thing is just a hand (similar to Ash's possessed hand in Evil Dead 2
, in fact I'd say The Addams Family
took some definite inspiration from ED2) with no arm or body and it walks around as a helper to the Addams family. In the TV show, Thing popped out of a box, but in the film through special effects Thing is free to walk around in his 5-digit glory. There are other great examples of the effects, but I'll not spoil them here.
The cast is perfect. I don't think anyone could have hoped to find a better cast to fill the shoes of the Addams clan. They are simply amazing and give each character a great personality that reflects their TV and comic counterparts. Raul Julia is fantastic as Gomez, Anjelica Huston is sublime as Morticia and so is Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester in what I think is one of his best performances. Christina Ricci, however, steals the show as little Wednesday Addams - her third role in a major motion picture. She's one of my favorite screen actresses and I think she's got a lot of talent and presence. As a horror fan the subject matter of The Addams Family
is appealing and the film is a lot of fun to watch, as it is visually pleasing and entertaining - I highly recommend it.
Paramount presents The Addams Family
letterboxed at 1.85:1 and has been enhanced for 16:9 TVs. Addams Family looks splendid; Paramount did a great job with this one. The transfer is very clean with hardly any grain present throughout the feature. The image is very sharp and detailed I didn't notice any soft looking shots at any time. The print used for this great transfer was in excellent shape, though some occasional blips and specks do pop up, but they are hardly a distraction. Addam's Family is a dark film and was photographed to that way so there aren't too many bright colorful exteriors.
Flesh tones looked great, but of course the Addams family members are made to look pale so this is natural. The nighttime scenes looked fabulous blacks were solid and shadow detail was top notch. Also the occasional smoke that appears in the film flows smoothly without any break-up. This is great stuff from Paramount and although Addam's Family isn't a terribly old film it looks better than most films made around the same time.
Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 the sound is awesome. Addams Family's wonderful score composed by Marc Shaiman sounds terrific. The front soundstage has a great amount of depth and the surrounds were fairly active and. The scenes at the party for Fester in particular the "Mamushka" are a great example of how awesome the DD 5.1 mix is. Dialogue and effects were clear without any distortion. Also provided on the DVD is a Dolby Surround 2.0 track, high marks.
Unfortunately Paramount has only provided us with two theatrical trailers. Really this film deserves so much more - commentaries, making of documentaries on the effects, interviews with the cast and crew, deleted Scenes (if any) and so on. Hopefully one-day Paramount will release a Special Edition of The Addams Family since the film has such great potential to be a stellar disc.
Addams Family fans rejoice!!! The film has finally made it to DVD. While it may not be a SE the DVD has a fantastic presentation thanks to a great 16x9 enhanced transfer and awesome Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Paramount's pricing for movie only standard editions may be a bit too high for some folks taste but at least they always deliver the goods when it comes to 16x9 transfers and that can't be said for all studios. A must have for fans, a great rental otherwise.
Image Quality - A
Sound - A
Supplements - C+
- Rated PG-13
- 1 Disc
- 18 Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Digital 5.1
- English Dolby Surround