Paramount Pictures' 90th Anniversary Memorable ScoresSony Classical (S2K 87736)
Released: July 2, 2002
Formats: CD, Digital (148 min)
Review: Addams Family, The
4.5 / 5 Stars
This review is a difficult one – not because I don't know what I want to say about this fantastic score, but because I don't want to come off as a twitterpated boob. To say that I merely enjoy this score is to say that The Passion of the Christ has done fairly well at the box office – extremely understated. I, myself, am a big fan of dark humor, and there is no more perfect platform for it to shine than that of The Addams Family. The 1991 film, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld of Men in Black fame, is a morbidly bizarre, but wonderfully funny, nod to the grim humor of one Charles Addams, a cartoonist for The New Yorker and other publications. His was a classic sense of the odd, which Sonnenfeld captured perfectly. Of course, the film would not have been nearly as enjoyable had Marc Shaiman not graced it with his wonderfully lush and wacky score to accompany the likes of Morticia, Gomez, Fester, Wednesday, Pugsley, Thing, and Lurch. Let the boobing begin.
From the first track we can tell that this is a film that really doesn't take itself too seriously. After the familiar, catchy Addams Family theme by Vic Mizzy, we wither into the rolling theme that compliments the onscreen romance between Morticia and Gomez Addams (played to perfection by Angelica Huston and the late Raul Julia). While somewhat different, this is your classic Hollywood-style romance accompanied by a classic Hollywood-style score, and it is spot-on. Light, yet heavy; mystical yet overt; passionate and genuine, yet over the top - all in true Addams form. It is the overarcing theme for the entire film, and the Addams themselves. As the album continues, we are introduced to Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley's (Jimmy Workman) theme, a sprightly variation on the Gomez/Morticia romance theme; and Thing's theme, a pizzicato-laden/big band cue brilliantly played against the dismembered hand.
A nice touch here and there in the album is the use of the harpsichord, which Shaiman fans will easily recognize as one of his trademark instruments. The sheer comedy and character portrayed in the score makes it one of the most enjoyable listening experiences a film score buff can have. While it does stand alone extremely well as a soundtrack, it is so intertwined with the Addams lifestyle that it's hard, if unnecessary, to separate the two. I believe that the Addams themselves would highly approve of the work done by Mr. Shaiman on this score. While their preferences are somewhat backwards, it can't be denied that the Addams have a wonderful, albeit macabre, sense of style, which Shaiman understands and delivers in spades. Listening to this score is almost like watching Gene Kelly dancing while wearing roller skates (which he does in It's Always Fair Weather). Shaiman makes it seem so easy that it's almost like he's just having a lot of fun entertaining you.
Rounding out the soundtrack is the Kipper Kids' delightfully twisted version of Playmates, Duke Ellington's The Mooche, and, in all its glory, the full version of the Mamushka, performed by Raul Julia and the great Christopher Lloyd, and written by the legendary Adolph Green and Betty Comden of Singin' in the Rain fame. These songs only add to the style, character, and sheer delight of the album.
And so, the boobing continues. In the liner notes, Mr. Shaiman records: "When Barry Sonnenfeld and Scott Rudin first asked me to write the score to The Addams Family I was sure of one thing…. Danny Elfman must have said no!" Now, please don't take this the wrong way, dear readers, but I am glad that Mr. Elfman, the wonderful composer that he is, did not end up scoring this film. Whether or not he had the opportunity to do so, I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that if he would have taken the job, the world would have been denied a rich, romantic score by a self-proclaimed "whining, immature nebbish." Thank heavens Mr. Shaiman was asked to score this film because this is where he and his versatility truly shines. Beyond the sweeping drama of The American President, the home-style sweetness of Simon Birch, and the provocative drama of A Few Good Men is the wonderfully romantic, darkly comedic score for The Addams Family.
Footnote: Sadly, dear readers, The Addams Family is no longer in print. A few years ago, I had the good fortune of finding a nice chap on Half.com who had it up for sale. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. If you ever come across this album in your gallivanting across eBay, Half.com, or even Amazon.com, buy it first and look at how much it cost you after you buy it. It is extremely rare, so get it while the gettin's good, so to speak. Now, go forth!
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