“The Addams Family (1991)”
Music By Marc Shaiman
Featuring “The Addams Family Theme”
by Vic Mizzy and “Mamushka” Performed By
Raul Julia & Christopher Lloyd
La-La Land Records
30 Tracks/Disc Time: 70:07
Grade: B+ (BEST OF 2014)
“The Addams Family” which was created by the late Charles Addams, was one of the more popular comic strips of its time which ultimately became a hit television series in the 60’s. After some rather turbulent problems thanks to the fall of Orion Pictures (despite their Oscar winning darlings in Silence Of The Lambs and Dances With Wolves) which went bankrupt in late 1990, “The Addams Family” lived on through Paramount Pictures which got the rights to the film and finished production under first time director Barry Sonnenfeld, who was The Cohen Brothers’ trusted cinematographer for years. The film version which originally intended to be directed by Tim Burton, stars the late Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston as the matriarchs, Gomez and Morticia Addams of the oddly macrabe family that features their young children Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) and Wednesday (Christina Ricci), their granny, Lurch and of course, their handy (excuse the pun) member of the family, Thing. The film version revolves around the family turned upside down when it’s believed that their long lost Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd, “Back To The Future”) (Gomez’ brother) has returned. However, he turns out to be apart of a group of conniving schemers out to get the Addams’ fortune until the real Fester returns to save his once forgotten family. The film was a major hit when it was released during the holidays in 1991 and spawned a hit sequel in Addams Family Values two years later.
For a film such as this, it was probably a no brainer that Danny Elfman would’ve been the one to write the score for this film and would’ve been had Tim Burton stayed on to direct. Even without Burton, it was a logical choice…however…Barry Sonnenfeld went in a different direction in then newcomer Marc Shaiman. At that point, Shaiman was primarily known as Bette Midler’s pianist and working on Broadway up until his debut in James L.Brooks’ critically acclaimed “Broadcast News” and began to work with Director Rob Reiner adapting music for the memorable romantic comedy, “When Harry Met Sally” and writing a very intense thriller score for “Stephen King’s Misery” and started a close working relationship with writer/actor/director Billy Crystal on the surprise hit, “City Slickers” soon after. “The Addams Family” would firmly propel Shaiman as A-list composer soon after the success of this film, which garnered him acclaim and would ultimately gain him another blockbuster hit project, “A Few Good Men”.
The score to this film, is simply fun and full of Shaiman’s musical wit. Intropolating lovely tango passages while generiously helping us to his rendition of Vic Mizzy’s classic “Addams Family Theme” and gloriously going over the top with his exciting thematic material. Right from the film’s “Main Title”, Shaiman introduces us to his brilliant main theme which is a lovely dark and gothic waltz that is very much in the vein of Mizzy’s theme and builds on it to something grand and lush. I just simply love it personally. Shaiman would have fun showcasing the fun musical material for the family in the tracks “Morning”, “Chess”, “Seances And Swordfights”, “Take It Off/Family Plotz” and “A Party…For Me?” which Shaiman switches modes from cheerful and frenetic tango based pieces to more dramatic and gothic material that really works and wold later play out. The score’s best material aside from this is the final half of this score where Shaiman really unleashes his musical talents that would make him a talent to be wreckoned with the tracks “Fester Exposed”, “Trio Bungled/Pep Talk”, “Thing Gets to Work (film version)”, “The Rescue” and “Finale” that he really stretches himself out musically and especially “The Rescue”, which is a very memorable track on this score where in over eight and half minutes really muscles up to create some grand, gothic and exciting action music that would’ve made both Danny Elfman and Vic Mizzy proud. People say that “Misery” made Shaiman a star, but honestly I think it was this score that made him a major player all around and earning him the respect of his peers without question. A surprise is the gem of “The Addams Family Theatrical Trailer” music which gave everyone a preview of the exciting musical shenanigans that was to come in full form later on in the year.
La-La Land’s expanded album generiously expands the original 1991 Capitol Records album by over 30 minutes and it really makes a huge difference really expanding upon Shaiman’s enjoyable score to get the full power and diversity that the score features. To be honest, this is one of Shaiman’s most underrated scores and that’s unfortunate because it is alot of fun and whimisical at the same time. “The Addams Family” is easily one of Marc Shaiman’s best score and rich with musical love that showcases his finest musical talents. A great effort. Thumbs way up!