The first two Addams Family movies were a lot better than most critics acknowledged: Director Barry Sonnenfeld (Get Shorty, Men In Black) and writers Caroline Thompson and Paul Rudnick took what was essentially a one-joke premise and transformed it into a winning satire of suburban conformity. Addams Family Values was a commercial failure, however, which meant the franchise's demotion to the direct-to-video ghetto, the cinematic equivalent of being sent down from the big leagues to play Double A ball in Columbus, Ohio. Addams Family Reunion seems to have been made for about a tenth of what its predecessors cost, meaning that the only remaining cast members are Carel Struycken (Lurch) and Christopher Hart (Thing). Replacing Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston as the leads are Tim Curry and Daryl Hannah, while the rest of the cast has been filled out with such direct-to-video staples as Alice Ghostley, Ray Walston, Clint Howard, and Ed Begley Jr. The film's plot revolves around the title occasion, a family reunion that mistakenly sends the gothic clan to a sunny resort, where they encounter a "normal" family that turns out to be far more devious, conniving, and evil than the morbid but basically good Addams clan. That tiny shred of satire is about all that remains of the original films' anarchic spirit. As can be expected, the dialogue is awful, the acting sitcom-broad (with the exception of Curry, who's actually quite good given the circumstances), and the direction unremarkable. And while the first two films featured elaborate, meticulously designed sets, the sets in Addams Family Reunion look like they were purchased from the producers of The New Munsters. As for the special effects, they're of the sort not usually seen outside of syndicated Canadian TV shows. Still, it's nice to see that Walston and Howard will always find work as long as films like these keep getting made.
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