FEATURE THE ADDAMS FAMILY
isturbed from warm fires and full stomachs every Christmas by hosts of well-meaning carol singers, I’m sure many of us have had thoughts towards them that aren’t exactly in keeping with the season of good will. And so the opening scene of Orion’s $30 million holiday blockbuster The Addams Family may well seem like a bit of wish fulfilment. As the crowd below sing sweetly of silent nights, angels and children in mangers, an assembled family group on an upper balcony smile to themselves and start to tip over a cauldron full of a steaming, rather odious liquid.
It’s not that the Addams family are evil; it’s just they’ve got a more macabre sense of fun than the average suburban household. The family first came to life during the 305 in the New Yorker magazine in a cartoon strip drawn by Charles Addams. Although the cartoons weren’t exactly autobiographical (one would hope), Addams was infamous for the medieval armour, weapons— including a working guillotine — and
animated skeletons he kept in his Manhattan apartment. When he married for the third time in 1980, the setting was a pet cemetery and the bride was resplendent in black.
His creations reached a wider audience in the mid-60$, when American network ABC turned the drawings into a blackly comic TV sitcom. Although the series only ran for two
; seasons, it became a cult item which
reappears occasionally, and is currently being aired on BSkyB’s Comedy Channel. Unlike their contemporaries The Munsters — a family of monsters trying to live as normal people — the Addams troupe were a (relatively) normal family group happy to play mischievous jokes on each other with childish, non-conformist abandon.
Now the finger-clicking of the original ditty has been transformed into the body-popping of MC Hammer’s Addams Groove and a star-studded cast has resurrected all the characters from their TV graveyard. Barry Sonnenfeld makes his directorial debut, having beaten off first choices of (inevitably) Tim Burton and (intriguingly) David Lynch.
The plot, for all it matters, concerns the return of Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) after being lost for 25 years in the Bermuda Triangle. But is this Fester really an imposter? Is it all a plan to trick the Addamses out of their family fortune? Does it really matter? Well, no, because the film looks great (not surprising, given that Sonnenfeld was cinematographer on all the Coen brothers’ films) and there are enough one-liners and comic set-pieces to keep audiences of all ages amused. For one Christmas at least, the idea of a family visit needn’t conjure up unwelcome images of endless turkey sandwiches and bad-tempered games of Trivial Pursuit.
The Addams Family (PG) opens widely across Scotland on Friday 13 December. The original TVseries can be seen on BSkyB’s Comedy Channel at 7.30pm Monday to Friday. The Addams Family Album, a selection of cartoons by Charles Addams, is available in Hamish Hamilton hardback, priced £10. 99.
‘De-de-de-dum. Click, click. De-de-de-dum. Click, click.’ From a cartoon strip in the New Yorker to a cult TV series and now on to the big screen. Alan Morrison decides it’s time to meet the creepy, kooky,
mysterious, spooky, altogether ooky ADDAMS FAMILY.
6 The List 6— 19 December 1991