At home with the 'Addams Family': Sight gags and laughs keep coming

November 22, 1991|By Lou Cedrone | Lou Cedrone,Evening Sun Staff

The stories that Paramount was worried about its new film, ''The Addams Family,'' were apparently unfounded. The film, based on the characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams, works.

The ''Addams Family'' is a funny send-up of those fabled cartoon characters. It was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, who has never directed a film before (he was director of photography on a number of films, including ''Big'').

The music, done by Marc Shaiman, is a definite asset. Shaiman has designed the score to underline and punctuate many of the gags in the film, most of which work.

The sound effects are terrific, too. When Christopher Lloyd, as Fester, kicks his way around the halls of the Addams mansion, the exaggerated sound adds to the merriment.

''The Addams Family'' is also well cast. Anjelica Huston plays Morticia Addams. We know Huston has a fine sense of comedy, but here she excels. Everything she does is understated, which is precisely the right approach to this kind of material.

Raul Julia is Gomez, husband to Morticia, and Lloyd is the man who pretends to be the long-lost brother of Gomez. His mother and he hope to lay claim to the Addams fortune, which they do, but they find that acquisition of the Addams estate is not that easy.

Gomez duels with Tully (Dan Hedaya), and at one point does a musical number with Fester (Lloyd). They dance to a song called ''Mamushka,'' which was written by Shaiman in collaboration with Betty Comden and Adolph Green (''The Will Rogers Follies''), and this, too, has been brightly staged.

The Addams kids are played by Christina Ricci and Jimmy Workman, and while you wouldn't want to have children like this, they are funny, particularly when the girl announces the game she is about to play (she intends to execute her brother) is called, ''Is There A God?''

There may be times when the humor in ''The Addams Family'' is a little too close to reality, but the writers always stop short of repulsion.

''The Addams Family'' is one of those films that gets funnier and funnier as it moves along, maybe because we become used to its humor, much of which is visual. Christopher Hart does Thing, the hand with a mind of its own.

''The Addams Family'' won't appeal to all. It's humor, admittedly, is a little dark. Well, it would have been dark a while back. Today, it is probably gray.

''The Addams Family'' opens here today. See it, but don't try any of this at home.

''The Addams Family'' *** The macabre activities of the characters that originated in the Charles Addams cartoons.

CAST: Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christina Ricci, Christopher Lloyd, Jimmy Workman, Elizabeth Wilson, Christopher Hart

DIRECTOR: Barry Sonnenfeld

RATING: PG-13 (violence)

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

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