The Addams Family

1991, Orion et al

Barry Sonnenfeld did his utmost to recapture the look and feel of the original TV sitcom—even including a story thinner than tissue paper, making 99 minutes seem like 99 hours. Yet the deviations Sonnenfeld made just exacerbated the problem: Raúl Juliá and Anjelica Huston, while reasonably well cast, failed to recapture the same sparkling joie de vivre as their predecessors, although I confess Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester was genius. The new Lurch had none of Ted Cassidy's "charm" (and was mercifully scarce); Cousin Itt sounded annoyingly absurd; and a free-roaming Thing was just plain wrong. The troubled production—evident in its inconsistent style and uneven pacing—went way over budget, but thanks to surprisingly good traction at the box office, the film made back several times what it cost.

 

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Addams Family Values

1993, Paramount

Having learned from (some of) his mistakes, Sonnenfeld attempted to inject more macabre energy into Values, striving for that "madcap sitcom" feel. While it's an improvement over the first film, the ephemeral magic that made the TV series so unique remained elusive. Even when it's done with love and care, imitation is still imitation; the result was margarine versus butter. Curiously, this time the critics were pleased, whereas it barely broke even at the box office.

See also the animated feature.

   

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