The Addams Family begins with a hearty chuckle, as a group of nauseatingly cheery carol singers are treated to a dose of Addams hospitality. The film is of course a 1990s revamp of the 1960s television series with the catchy refrain: "They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're altogether ooky." However, the film lacks the delicate balance between finesse and crudity that marked the original; perhaps this is the result when a cult show is turned into movie fodder for the masses.
The Addams' live in a decaying mansion that boasts such attractions as a graveyard, a swamp and a vault full of money. It is this last which attracts the attention of a crooked accountant and his unscrupulous client Mrs. Craven. Their plan is to install Mrs. Craven's son Gordon in the house as 'long-lost' Uncle Fester Addams, with the purpose of gaining access to the vault. Initially Gordon is all for this plan, but once he gets to know and like the family, he undergoes a crisis of confidence and must decide where his loyalties lie.
The plot may be depressingly formulaic, but fortunately it is in the Addams' nature to be quirky. The humour is generally quite fresh and clever - who would have picked the villain's ultra-conventional wife pairing off with hirsute (and definitely unconventional) Cousin Itt? But along with the hits, there are some equally spectacular misses, including almost everything involving Grandma Addams. The other female Addams' are excellent, especially young Christina Ricci as the perpetually sullen Wednesday. Ultimately though, you have to wonder if the mysterious and macabre charm of the Addams has lost something in its modernisation, and if perhaps they should have been left to rest in peace.