Friday, April 12, 2013

Dark Shadows (2012) v. The Addams Family (1991)

Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and Barry Sonnenfeld’s The Addams Family are the same movie. Both are films adapted from television shows from the 1960. They involve similar plots, similar themes, similar sets and even similar gags. Both are good films too, though The Addams Family ultimately proves far superior. Here’s why.

** spoiler alert **

Let’s start with the similarities. Dark Shadows is the story of Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp), who is a vampire who returns to his family home after two-hundred years locked in a coffin. His family has fallen on hard times because they’ve been cursed by the same witch (Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard) who turned him into a vampire and locked him in the coffin. He must work his way back into the family and must save them from the witch. By comparison, The Addams Family is the story of Fester Addams (Christopher Lloyd), who is the older brother of Gomez Addams (Raul Julia). He disappeared years before and now has returned to the family home to find his place again. Only, Fester is under the control of Abigail Craven, who is supposedly his mother but is more of a fraudster. As with Barnabus, Fester must learn to fit in with his family and then must save them from his mother.
As you can see, both films involve the return of missing heirs who must work their way back into families in which they don’t quite fit and both must save their families from evil women intent on stealing their fortunes and destroying their families. Both films even follow the same plot diagram: outsider arrives and family must adapt... adversary revealed... as the outsider begins to fit it, the adversary strikes and appears to win... the family must come together to regain their fortune and overcome the adversary.

The themes are the same too. Both families are out-of-place in the modern world. They are strange, with strange customs, and both are disliked by the outside world. They are seen as freaks – both families actually are a mix of normal humans and the supernatural. Both families also have a hint of being anachronistic, with both feeling somewhat Victorian in style and manner. This gets confused a little in Dark Shadows because Depp’s character is 200 years old and thus all the jokes about being abnormal are at his expense, but if you look at the family alone, you will see that they don’t feel “modern” either compared to the rest of the world either – Burton adds another layer of anachronistic-confusion on top of this by setting Dark Shadows in the 1970s and playing it as a sort of period piece.
Both films also involve lost family members trying to fit back into their families. The tensions are reversed in the films, with the Addams family welcoming Fester back, even though he feels he doesn’t belong, and Depp forcing himself back into the Collins family, which doesn’t want him, but the end result is nearly identical themes of acceptance and families growing together.

All of this, makes these films essentially the same movie. Nevertheless, there are key differences which make The Addams Family the much better film.

Tone: Despite similar themes and both films being comedies, their tones are rather different. Dark Shadows has a darker tone. It is driven by drama rather than humor, particularly the miserableness of the Collins family, and its humor comes from insults, from injury, and from the good guys being made to feel uncomfortable. The Addams Family does the reverse. The Addams Family is driven by how the Addamses happily endure in their own little world, untouched by reality. Its humor is based on the family succeeding in ridiculous ways, on the frustration of the bad guys, and on the avoidance of injuries. This results in Dark Shadows being much darker. But since the darker tone isn’t really used to achieve anything interesting, this only makes the film harder to enjoy.

Dark Shadows also suffers from a bit of schizophrenia in that it never can decide if it’s more comedy or more drama. Burton also floods the film with musical interludes of 1970s music, which are just too long. It feels like Burton is copying Goodfellas, but it never meshes with the film and it hurts the comedic timing.
Characters: Although both films involve unusual characters in outlandish situations, Dark Shadows doesn’t capitalize on this nearly as well as The Addams Family, because Dark Shadows doesn’t give its characters much freedom. Essentially, Dark Shadows focuses entirely on Johnny Depp, with Depp either dominating the screen or the other actors waiting for him to arrive. Thus, despite the fact the character list includes a werewolf, a ghost, a reincarnated woman who sees ghosts, a thieving father, and a witch, none of these characters ever becomes all that interesting.

By comparison, you remember all the characters in The Addams Family because each functions as a fully-formed person with their own storyline. Thus, throughout the movie, each of these characters engages in a variety of activities related solely to themselves, which gives each a chance to do memorable things. This, in turn, lets you enjoy each scene on its own, whereas many scenes in Dark Shadows feel like filler as you wait for Depp to do something.

Actors: The actors matter too. Raul Julia was Gomez Addams, Anjelica Huston was Morticia, and Christopher Lloyd was Uncle Fester. These actors immersed themselves in their roles and created characters who fit the needs of the story rather than playing themselves. Indeed, if you look at the other films done by Julia, Huston or Lloyd, you won’t find similar characters in any other film because the acting they did here was meant to portray the characters they played. The actors in Dark Shadows are not as convincing. For one thing, none of them except Depp have unique characters. They are simply “angry teenage girl” or “rotten father,” and the actors are all interchangeable. The one exception is Depp, but it really is starting to feel like Depp does the same character from film to film. Thus, while Gomez Addams felt like Gomez Addams, Barnabus Collins felt like Johnny Depp playing Captain JackWonkaHatter. This makes it harder to see the characters as real.
Cleverness: The final difference lies in the cleverness of the writing. The Addams Family involves some truly brilliant writing. It includes jokes that are hilarious and yet unexpected. It takes risks, as we discussed with Clue, by not dumbing it down. It ties its humor directly into the characters and the plot. It swerves between innuendo and child friendly, but in such a way that is safe for kids and hilarious for parents. And it uses some fantastic word play. Moreover, the storyline itself moves unexpectedly and, while you know how the story will end, you still never know how you will get there.

Dark Shadows, on the other hand, offers none of this. The humor in Dark Shadows is not witty, it is “fish out of water” humor, with Depp misunderstanding what the people around him are talking about. It is essentially him not understanding how a McDonalds sign lights up or that Alice Cooper is not a woman. The writer took no risks either as there is nothing here to make an audience think. There is so little about the writing that is memorable that I can’t even remember a favorite line. Further, everything in this film is expected. You know how the film will end. You know what each character must do before we get there. And you know exactly how things will play out.

When Depp goes to see the witch alone, you know he will be captured. You also know he will be freed at a critical moment to save the day. You know that Depp and Victoria will end up together even though there’s no chemistry between them (or even a relationship) because that’s what’s expected. You even know that Dr. Hoffman will not die when she’s tossed into the ocean... because that’s exactly what you would expect to happen. You see everything coming a mile away because this film does exactly what general audiences expect it to do.

In the end, both movies are good. Dark Shadows will keep your attention, it will make you laugh at times, and it doesn’t feel like anything else out there right now. So I do recommend it. But The Addams Family is far superior. It pulls you in much stronger and makes you care about the characters. You really come to like these people and you want to see more of them (hence, the sequel). If you can see only one comedy about a bizarre supernatural family this summer... make it The Addams Family.


tryanmax said...

As much as I like Depp, I must sadly admit that he's mostly been reprising the role of Raoul Duke (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) for the last ten years.

The thing that is most absolutely infectious about The Addams Family is how utterly proud they are to be Addamses. Casually, they might seem oblivious to their own oddness, but critically, such is not the case. They know they are kooky (and all the rest) but that singular family pride outweighs any criticism and carries them through everything. (Even moreso in Addams Family Values, a rare sequel that is on par with its predecessor.)

It's worth noting that the film was based as much on the original Charles Addams comic as the TV show (which Addams had a generous hand in, as well). Many of the film gags are taken directly from various panels, though the characters' demeanors were certainly inspired by the TV show. That could account for some of the advantage that Family has over Shadows.

Incidentally, this is the film that made me fall in love with Christina Ricci. But I was 11 in 1991, so it's not as creepy as it sounds.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I've been a big fan of Depp, but he really has just been playing the same character for years now.

I think you're right about The Addams Family. For one thing, their joyous pride in being Addamses is absolutely infectious. You can't help but love watching the way they act with each other. And you are totally right about the sequel. I love the sequel and I think at times that it's better than the original. It also has one of my favorite lines:

Debbie (about Gomez being handsome) "Isn't he a lady killer!"

Gomez (in enthusiastic response) "Acquitted!"

That always makes me laugh!

I thought Ricci was really creepy and I didn't change my mind until Speed Racer.

Dave Olson said...

Never seen Dark Shadows, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, or any of the Pirates movies except for 20 minutes of the first one. Basically, I have no interest in seeing a movie "Starring Johnny Depp as every quirky Johnny Depp character you've ever seen!" (yawn) Where does this guy get his reputation for being a "great actor"?

OTOH, Addams Family is one of my faves. It's just plain fun, never taking itself too seriously and going all out trying to entertain you. And that last bit is what is missing from far too many movies these days. As an added bonus, Addams Family inspired one of the greatest pinball machines ever made, making generous use of lines from the movie. "Quicksand, fumes, toxic waste, it's all ours!"

Anonymous said...

I never actually got around to seeing the first Addams Family film in its entirety until pretty recently. I thought it was okay but I'm a HUGE fan of the second one:

Fester: "Don't you love me?"

Debbie: "Do I love you? Look at yourself! You're the missing link! You shouldn't be married, you should be studied! You're a big, dumb, weird thing!"

The second film has a better pace to it and better foils for the family (Joan Cusack and those yuppy camp counselors).

Ironically, the first Addams Family was written by two Tim Burton veterans: Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands) and Larry Wilson (Beetlejuice).


As for Depp, I'm a fan but I was also pleased as punch when I found out Tim Burton's next film will star Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams and not the usual suspects.

Dark Shadows almost felt like half a movie at times. It wasn't funny enough to work as a comedy and not scary and dark enough to work as a horror movie. A couple of the characters (like the brother) are completely useless and Chloe Grace Moretz', uh, transformation at the end wasn't handled very well.

I won't go so far as to say it came off as a Tim Burton parody like Alice in Wonderland, and I was very intrigued by the trailer, but genre hybrids are next to impossible to pull off. It's a miracle Beetlejuice turned out as well as it did - it handled the tonal shifts quite well in retrospect.

(Eva Green, though, is pure sex and is always a pleasure to watch. Good actress, too!) :-)

Alex said...

I loved this movie as a kid, and haven't seen it since. Hell, even my dad loved it, and he thinks most movies madea after 1970 are crap. This review makes me want to rewatch it.

rlaWTX said...

I enjoyed this movie. I loved watching the reruns of the TV show.
I didn't see Dark Shadows (movie or TV show). I have a friend who is a huge Depp fan. I don't get it. I thought he was cute back in the early 21 Jump Street days (I was a high school girl who only got to see the show when I was sick and staying home from Sunday night church!), but...

PDBronco said...

I'll admit that my feelings for Dark Shadows result mostly from the trailers. But to me, it seems the main difference between Dark Shadows and The Addams Family was the respect level of the source material. The Addams Family showed a lot of respect (and love) to the original, while the feeling I got from the Dark Shadows trailers was contempt of the source.

AndrewPrice said...

Dave, The Addams Family is a fantastic movie and I think anyone who hasn't seen it should give it a shot. It's smart, it's funny, it's entertaining.

As for Depp, he got his reputation before those roles and he can be quite an excellent actor. He just seems to be stuck in a rut lately.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I like the Addams Family sequel better as well, though I think both are excellent films. The sequel really hits its stride though.

On Depp, I think the problem is Burton, not Depp. Honestly, what Burton does has worn very thin with me and I've never through anyone acted well in one of his film. Depp does a good enough job for what he's asked to do, but the problem is what he's asked to do.

As for Dark Shadows being half a movie, I agree with that. It's not funny enough to be a solid comedy and it's not scary enough to be anything else. I still think it's a good movie considering the current competition however. If this had come out in 1992, I probably would have been harsher. But given the real sad state of modern cinema, this stands out as a competent film with some excellent moments... like when he kills the hippies. LOL!

You're right too that half the characters are useless. I would also add the father, the caretaker, the psychiatrist, and to a degree even the mother.

AndrewPrice said...

Alex, I catch both Addams Family and Addams Family Values every so often and they never grow old. They really are fun, clever and worthwhile. I highly recommend them.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I liked Addams Family and the sequel a lot, but I didn't really watch the tv show. I've seen a dozen or so episodes, but it never took for me.

If you don't like Depp or Burton, then I don't recommend Dark Shadows because it's very much one of their films.

I think what got Depp his credibility was that he handled his early roles really well and he always found a way to stand out. I think that worked right up through Pirates of the Caribbean, but then things went wrong.

AndrewPrice said...

PDBronco, I think that's an accurate assessment. I've noticed over time that the things that makes remakes or adaptations work is having love for the original material. Failures tend to treat the original material with contempt or just as a marketing gimmick.

In the end, I don't think Dark Shadows the movie has much to do with the series. I can't be sure, but this strikes as a generic Hollywood plot using the Dark Shadows label.

Backthrow said...

By all rights, I should like THE ADDAMS FAMILY movies, and they aren't bad, but they still leave me kind of cold. Though the original TV series was hilarious only half of the time, I love it and its adult cast can't be matched. The new Lurch seemed too gentle and frail. Christopher Lloyd appeared to be scrunched-down all the time to look Fester-like, rather than comfortably occupying the role. Raoul Julia was good, and looked more like Addams' drawings of Gomez, but was missing the great controlled mania that John Astin had. Angelica Huston was good, but she didn't look delicate enough, and was maybe trying a little too hard to be dry and arch, whereas Carolyn Jones did this effortlessly. Huston affected a Mortica style of look and speech, while Jones was Morticia.

The plot? I don't recall caring that much one way or the other, just sort of contrived business creating conflict for the clan. Fester might be an imposter, because some antagonist wanted to build a golf course on Addams land, or get them to move so they don't drive off club members, or something.

The disembodied hand effects for Thing were neat, but cheapened the character for me; though it was much cheaper/easier for the TV show to just have a hand in a box without a bottom, I liked the idea that you didn't really know what Thing totally was. A sentient, disembodied hand? The small, visible part of some larger, hideous mass of multiple hands? A relative who got trapped between dimensions, who could only get his hand out into our world? It was probably intended just to be a disembodied hand, nothing more... but not knowing for sure, not being given visual evidence of a stump at the wrist, made Thing kookier and more surrealistically special.

All this said, I haven't seen the films for many years, so I should probably revisit them. I just remember being kind of disappointed after seeing them the first time. Pretty wrapping paper surrounding an empty box.

My half-baked thoughts on DARK SHADOWS next...

Anonymous said...

Not a lot to say since I haven't seen either movie. But, based on Andrew's review and the comments, I feel I'm missing out on something special with 'The Addams Family.'
But then again, Raul Julia seems to be one of those actors who can make even absolutely terrible movies seem somewhat memorable.
Johnny Depp...hit and miss, in even when Tim Burton's at his most basic.


BevfromNYC said...

I remember running home every day from school to watch "Dark Shadows" and I never really understood what was going on, but it was wonderfully creepy. Then we'd watch "The Addams Family" and "The Munsters". What WAS it about the '60's that all of our afterschool TV was about monsters!? And it is upsetting to think that it is "vintage" too, but that's another story.

Dark Shadows was actually a dramatic soap opera. That may be the source of the confusion with the movie. Burton couldn't strike the right tone. What he ended up with was a half hearted parody-esque dark comedy which didn't translate well from the original. I remember thinking after I saw the movie that it was not what I was expecting at all and not in a good way.

I loved the "Addams Family" movie, because it still have the feel of original. And I think you are right. The characters were so well realized originally that they translated very well with new actors.

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, It's really hard to adapt something like a series precisely because of the reasons you give -- people will like various aspect of the show, which can't be repeated the same way by the movie cast. Personally, I was never a huge fan of the show, so I didn't miss those things and to me the cast worked perfectly. I also think the story and the themes are solid. They're nothing unusual or extravagant, but then they shouldn't be because the film was about the characters.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, I definitely recommend The Addams Family (and the sequel, which is probably a little better). I think you'll enjoy it.

I totally agree about Raul Julia. I've liked him in everything I've seen him in, even when the movie itself stunk!

Yeah, Depp is hit or miss these days. Burton is more miss than hit at this point.

Critch said...

I didn't care for Dark Shadows, it just wasn't good at any level of either drama or comedy...The Addams Family movies on the other hand are hilarious......

Morticia: Gomez.

Gomez: Querida?

Morticia: Last night you were unhinged. You were like some desperate, howling demon. You frightened me. Do it again!

The second movie was just as good if not better...The Addamses loved being Addamses,,,they were proud...

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I only ever saw a few episode of Dark Shadows and I never knew what to make of it, so I wasn't sure what to expect from the movie. But what I saw is exactly what you saw: Burton got the tone wrong and created a half-hearted parody, dark quasi-comedy, which ended up being more about Burton than Dark Shadows.

I love the Addams Family films as well. They are so positive and the characters are such fun to watch. It's one (two) of those films where you just leave with a smile on your face when the show is over.

Backthrow said...

I haven't seen the recent DARK SHADOWS movie, and likely won't go out of my way to seek it out. Mainly because I've long since gotten weary of the 'Tim Burton & Johnny Depp Show'.

Born too late to catch it in 1966-1971, I saw some of the original soap opera when I was a little kid, when it was first re-run on local TV, circa 1976. Pretty cool for a soap opera, I thought. Creepy monsters and ghosts (like in the fun Saturday afternoon Creature Features I used to watch avidly) instead of the usual boring doctors and lawyers featured in all the other soap operas that my mom and big sister used to dote on back then.

I saw brief dribs and drabs of it, many years later, when SCI-FI Channel had it in rotation, and decided to go on a nostalgic wallow a year ago, by watching the rise of Barnabas Collins (which starts about 200 episodes into the show, which is also where the 1970s re-runs I saw had started, rather that doing the whole series from Episode 1), and on through up to the introduction of Angelique (about 150 episodes later), via Netlix streaming.

It has all the usual drawbacks of live-on-tape serials; contrived plots that are drawn-out and milked for weeks... a handful of tiny, flimsy sets... actors, often wooden, flubbing their lines on a regular basis... characters written to do very stupid and/or contradictory things to keep the plot drawn out for as long as possible, etc.

However, while I'm not a die-hard fan, I still kind of enjoyed it, taking into consideration the limitations imposed by the format, budget, time constraints (I bet the actors got little-to-no rehearsal time, with a new, thick, dialogue-heavy script to learn 5 days a week, all year round) and the era in which it was produced. It occasionally did 'creepy' rather well (the music helped), and several of the main actresses were pretty cute.

Anyway, I think Andrew is right that the recent movie version seems not to have respected the source material. Making it a semi-spoof was the lazy way out. Plus, this way, horror fans don't get enough scares, people wanting a fun comedy don't get enough laughs and are jarred by the dark, violent material.

I know a lot of fans were hoping for a straight-ahead, serious version from Burton, which probably would've been more fun to watch... however, the soap opera cast and crew made two DARK SHADOWS feature films in the early '70s, and the producer made a serious prime-time version in '91, so maybe this material was already too well-worn for yet another remake, anyway. Nonetheless, we're in serious need of more scary, classic-style gothic vampires these days, rather than sparkly, emo teen heartthrob variety (as popularized by TWILIGHT and TRUE BLOOD), or leather-clad action heroes (the UNDERWORLD series). Alan Rickman or Jeremy Irons should play an old-school vampire.

I agree that Depp has sort of lost his luster after PIRATES. It also bothers me that he's pushing 50, about 5 years older than I am, and yet he still has the gravitas of a teenager. Same goes for Leo Di Caprio and Tom Cruise. Where are the convincingly-adult male movie stars who are younger than 60... who aren't British or Australian (et al)?

Tim Burton lost me after MARS ATTACKS; he's all about visuals... plot, character and competent action usually all take a back seat to sets, costume design, effects work and the occasional weird visual gag. And his stories are almost always about the 'misfit outsider', which Depp is always happy to play, so Barnabas (from what I can tell) is Edward Scissorhands is Ed Wood is Ichabod Crane is Willy Wonka...

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, That's what drives the movie -- the Addamses love being Addamses!

I love that line from Morticia. I love her delivery on all of her lines too. I also like this one which shows you want kind of relationship they have:

Gomez: How long has it been since we've waltzed?

Morticia: Oh, Gomez... hours.

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, I don't like Mars Attacks at all. That was a movie which seemed to have potential, but then never even tried to achieve it. It just became a series of sight-ggags.

we're in serious need of more scary, classic-style gothic vampires these days, rather than sparkly, emo teen heartthrob variety (as popularized by TWILIGHT and TRUE BLOOD), or leather-clad action heroes (the UNDERWORLD series). Alan Rickman or Jeremy Irons should play an old-school vampire.

I totally agree with this. We need more creepy horror all around. Horror today is either sadism or quasi-sex. And so much "horror" has been co-opted by things like Twilight.

There is a real shortage of competent leading men today. Too many pretty boys.

As for Dark Shadows, I only ever saw a few episodes on the Sci-Fi Channel and I just didn't know what to make of it. I suspect they didn't do a serious adaptation because they probably figured the audience wasn't big enough for that and they wanted a Burton/Depp film instead. I get the sense they just used the brand name to give it a boost.

Backthrow said...


Well, yeah, MARS ATTACKS isn't a very good movie. For me, it's a 'gimme', a 'guilty pleasure' (except I never feel guilt for liking schlock)... I wanted a much better-constructed, funnier movie with more gags-per-minute, but there's enough visual stuff in it that I enjoy, and nobody else was going to make a cartoony alien invasion flick where the aliens actually decimate scores of people just for kicks, so I take what I can get, in that regard. Additionally, though a lot of it doesn't work all that well, I can't resist the IT'S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD*/1941 vibe it was trying for, with its large cast of famous faces.

Also, I can't hate a movie that grafts Sarah Jessica Parker's head onto the body of a chihuahua, where it belongs. :)

* speaking of which, R.I.P. Jonathan Winters.

K said...

Bev:What WAS it about the '60's that all of our afterschool TV was about monsters!?

I've read some film theorists say that the Addams family was about black integration into 60s white society. Personally, I think the Addams family was more general than that, being about acceptance of different lifestyles so long as they incorporated the abstract qualities of love and family.

Some critics of the 50s sitcoms like "Leave it to Beaver" et al say they were devastated (?) as children when they found out their lives weren't as good as those portrayed in those show. There have been no such complains about the Addams Family, even though they have the domestic tranquility of Ozzie and Harriet. What they are really objecting to, IMO, is the perceived rigorous 50s lack of individuality. Certainly, the Addams family helped underwrite the 60s individuality boom.

Maybe we could use more Addams family shows today, but they'd have to reverse the roles to get the point across. Now it would be Ozzie and Harriet in vampire land.

Backthrow said...

K said: "Maybe we could use more Addams family shows today, but they'd have to reverse the roles to get the point across. Now it would be Ozzie and Harriet in vampire land."

True. Actually, wasn't that basically done with the BRADY BUNCH movie?

EricP said...

Amen on that pinball machine, Dave Olson! One day, I will own a house and it will reside on one side of Galaga, Terminator 2 pinball on the other.

Andrew, an added thought to our similar takes on Dark Shadows: not enough of Jackie Earle Haley's butler.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Raul Julia, no one's mentioned his work in Street Fighter? :-D

As for Burton, I think he's made a couple good movies in the last decade (Sweeney Todd being the best) but yeah, he's been on autopilot for a while. I linked above to a news story about his next film (not starring Depp) and it appears to be a return to smaller Ed Wood-style territory. Every now and then, filmmakers need to recharge the old creative batteries.

Backthrow mentioned Mars Attacks! and that's one movie I wish I liked more than I do, which isn't much. I don't know - it's beautiful to look at but there's really no one to sympathize with (except for maybe Lucas Haas' character), though that may have been the intention. And the attempts at humor weren't executed very well (except for the "Do the Martians have two sexes?" line).

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, The film just didn't work for me. I never found it to be funny. I never cared for the characters. And the tone of it kind of left me cold.

I just saw that about Winters. RIP.

AndrewPrice said...

K, Are you suggesting that all this talk about diversity total bunk? That liberals are all the same no matter what color they are? Pshaw! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, That was the point to the Brady Bunch Movie, which I thought was hilarious. Again, that was a really good-natured film with a lot of love for the subject matter.

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, I totally agree. That was one of the few characters I really liked and wanted to see a lot more of, yet they barely used him at all. I don't understand that choice. I thought he was going to be like an Igor type, but he ended up just being in a couple scenes.

I don't think I ever saw the Terminator 2 machine?

T-Rav said...

I think Burton and Depp would both be served well by taking a break from each other. I mean, I get that some directors work well by using the same actors in movie after movie (Nolan, Scorsese, Tarantino), but Burton's method at this point seems to be just casting Depp in some oddball role, building a movie around him, and making everything look slightly creepy/off-kilter. It's getting old.

Plus, I think Depp is suffering from playing so many oddballs--it's starting to seem like all he can do is a variation on Jack Sparrow. I don't really care about the movie itself, but I'm curious to see if he mixes it up any playing Tonto in Lone Ranger this year.

Anonymous said...

Scott, do we remember Raul Julia in 'Street Fighter?'


(Finally, I get to use that line!)


AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I kind of wonder if Burton isn't a one-trick pony and if he hasn't just been lucky at picking good ideas (things that will sell) rather than being good at making them good.

As I say above, I really don't like Mars Attacks. I've tried several times, but I really just don't like it.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Agreed. I think Depp would be well-served to do something straight again. He's generally been good when he's done that. I also think you've pretty much described exactly how Burton works at this point.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, LOL! Yeah, there was that! Actually, I kind of enjoyed Street Fighter the kind times I saw it. It was pure schlock, but fun.

K said...

There was a Brady Bunch movie?

AndrewPrice said...

Two of them. Here's the first one: LINK.

It's really well done. Basically, they are still the same family from the sitcom repeating sitcom storylines as the world around them has gone very 1990s (in the worst possible way -- gay neighbors, gangs, alcoholics, etc.). They are kind of oblivious to it all. The film is CRAWLING with innuendo.

The sequel is not as good, but has some hilarious moments. They keep looking for "a little white horse" (a statue) which is a reference to heroin. And it turns out the marriage wasn't legal so none of them are brother/sister anymore, which leads to some funny stuff.

Backthrow said...

T-Rav said: Burton's method at this point seems to be just casting Depp in some oddball role, building a movie around him, and making everything look slightly creepy/off-kilter. It's getting old.

Andrew said: I kind of wonder if Burton isn't a one-trick pony and if he hasn't just been lucky at picking good ideas (things that will sell) rather than being good at making them good.

I wonder if this theory holds water; to find out, let's take a look behind closed doors, shall we? ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, Someone linked to that the other day -- might even have been you. :) Not only is that hilarious, but I think it's probably pretty accurate. LOL!

Backthrow said...


Wow, really? Wasn't me... I just book-learned how to link to stuff in this format mere moments ago.

Yeah, pretty funny... though I wonder why the actor playing Burton gave him Regis Philbin's voice? Heh.

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, Well, it was somebody. :)

The voice works for me. The whole thing works. I love the idea that his team is so totally sick of him.

Kit said...



T-Rav said...

Ha! I love that the video went beyond Depp to call out Helena Bonham Carter and Danny Elfman as well. :-)

Kit said...

I will say, I am a huge fan of the ADDAMS FAMILY movies of the early 90s. In fact, I believe VALUES' Wednesday Addams (Christina Ricci) was one of my first movie crushes. :)
I mean how could you not fall in love with a woman who ate nanny after nanny alive (figuratively).

How could I not as a boy love the gal?

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, The jokes they give her are fantastic!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That is pretty funny, as there is plenty of blame to go around...

Kit said...

Now, as for the musical? Skip it. Its just meh. I saw it last Fall in Atlanta, GA and it was just meh. Poor story where characters act like morons for no other reason than because the plot requires it.
Though there are some bright spots.
The opening song, "When You're an Addams"

And the song "Happy/Sad". Here is Douglas Sills, who I saw perform last year. That song makes the soundtrack worth a look.

The performers I saw were ok. Douglas Sills above was an amazing Gomez. And even if the Wednesday I saw (Cortney Wolfson) didn't exactly bring as much deadpan as needed she could really belt out a tune.

So I say, skip the musical but buy the soundtrack on iTunes because "When You're an Addams" and "Happy/Sad", even when performed by Nathan Lane (not as good as Sills, in my opinion), is quite good and worth listening to some times.
But that is just my opinion.

Kit said...

Here is "Happy/Sad" performed by Lane for comparison. The soundtrack is worth getting for that song alone. (Unless you can get the song by itself on iTunes)

AndrewPrice said...

Hmm. Nathan Lane isn't very good as Gomez, is he?

Kit said...

Haven't seen the show, only heard the songs. And from what I've heard he was good, but I think Sills was better. Or at least a better singer.

Or, rather, I think Sills' version of "Happy/Sad" is better than Lane's. As for the rest, I'm not sure. Sills deeper voice feels more like Julia, though.

Kit said...

Excuse me.

I haven't seen the show Nathan Lane was in. In New York.

I have seen a performance in Atlanta.

tryanmax said...

I have a very hard time accepting Nathan Lane as Gomez Addams. Just not the right type.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree. Lane is good in the role of the effeminate homosexual, but little else. I don't see him at all as Gomez Addams.

shawn said...

Add me to the list of those that really enjoyed The Addams Family movies. I wanted to like Dark Shadows and thought the movie trailer looked very promising, but I didn't care for the movie at all.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, Given the state of modern films, I was pleasantly surprised by Dark Shadows -- at least enough to say it's worth seeing. But it doesn't hold a dim candle to a film like The Addams Family. That's one of those films that does everything right.

Anonymous said...

Didn't bother to watch Dark Shadows, I'm sick of both Depp and Burton and the preview didn't even raise a chuckle out of me. I've had the discussion on comments sections here about Depp just playing the same character in all his movies now, I've only seen about two of his movies in the last decade.

The Adams Family movies on the other hand were pretty dam well done. I haven't seen either of them in years, I might have to revisit them again.


AndrewPrice said...

Scott, One of the best things about the Addams Family films is that they don't grow old, so they are very re-watchable.

It's hard to blame you for not wanting to watch another Burton/Depp film.

PikeBishop said...

Tyran, so if you were 11 in 91, then you would have been just about the right age in 98....when Ms. Ricci undid the bikini straps in "The Opposite of Sex" huh? :-)

tryanmax said...

Pike, I'll allow my friend Glenn to answer that for me...

Glenn Q said...


rlaWTX said...

Nathan Lane as Gomez Addams???? no. just no.

Anonymous said...

I think one of the most enduring things about the Addam's, both in movies and TV is that eventhough they are incredibly enthusiastic about being an "Addams", they sort of think that the rest of then world is like them. This comes across more in the TV show I think, as several of the plots revolve around the Adam's meeting a normal person (ie: tv repair man) who eventualy gets freaked out and runs away. Gomez and the rest are genuinenly shocked when the "normal" person doesn't have a keen interest in dynamite, man-eating plants, Uranium mining, etc. Who wouldn't be? Their "hobbies" and "habits" may be a bit off, but what's a little serial killing and fratricide between friends, eh?

The comics made them much darker, and to some extent the movies; mentioning that various other family members are in prison or asylums for murder and mayhem, or were torn apart by revenge-driven mobs. But basically they're a very happy family and nice neighbors for the most part, who think that all is right with their world and that their world is the same as everybody else's. Just the kind of people you could drop in on anytime and borrow a cup of cyanide from.

Compare this to the Munsters. The Munsters assume that they are "normal" everyday people and that the rest of the world is misinformed, ugly, deformed. They're practically snobby about it. They treat their cousin Marlyn like she's disabled, saying things like "Well, with a face like that, she should be happy she's even getting a date", while people run in fear of them. They also don't understand why people don't agree with them, but that's because they assume that everyone else is wrong.

You tend to laugh with the Addam's and at the Munsters.


AndrewPrice said...

Drew, That's a great point. The messages really are reversed between the two. The Addams family message is basically "we're all a little weird which makes us all normal so we should accept our differences and be happy with ourselves -- don't try to be like everyone else," whereas the Munster message is "what if you lived in a world where you were considered the weirdo... still, let's mock the weirdos." Interesting. I'd never thought about that before.

On your first point, I totally agree with that. Not only do they revel in being Addamses, but they think the rest of the world is just like them, which is hilarious and makes them really good-natured. :)

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