It’s been exactly twenty years since the release of Addam’s Family Values, the sequel to Men in Black 3 helmer Barry Sonnenfeld’s debut film as a director: 1991’s The Addams Family. The big-screen adaptation of the fondly remembered 1960’s TV series (which in turn was based on the morbidly funny one-panel New Yorker cartoons of Charles Addams) is arguably responsible for the TV-to-movie remake craze of the 90’s, and remains one of the best and most beloved of that particular genre.
While the two original films were successes, any hope of a threequel was put to rest after the death of the late, great Raul Julia (who played patriarch Gomez). A completely recast third film, Addam’s Family Reunion, was quietly punted to video and then forgotten. Talk of a 3D, stop-motion animated remake (in black and white) from Illumination Entertainment (the Despicable Me films) and directed by Tim Burton persisted, with a script from Burton’s Ed Wood writers, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, but that project never happened.
Now, Variety reports that an animated version of The Addams Family is back from the dead, this time in the hands of MGM and will be written by Corpse Bride and Monster House screenwriter Pamela Pettler. There is currently no director attached.
Sonnenfeld’s Addams films relied heavily on an over-the-top Gothic atmosphere, some sharp writing, and the charm of the actors – with Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston (as Morticia) and a young Christina Ricci (as Wednesday) being the standouts. They still hold up fairly well (with the original film still the better of the two), but neither those movies or the campy 60’s show were definitive in adapting Charles Addams’ wickedly dry sense of humor.
Given the dark-but-funny nature of his filmography, Tim Burton seemed like a perfect fit – on paper, at least. Burton’s departure from the project went essentially unnoticed, but it appeared to occur in the wake of the chilly critical and commercial reception of Dark Shadows and audience indifference toward Frankenweenie. Burton has since moved on to the under-the-radar Big Eyes, a drama about the life of artist Margaret Keane, perhaps needing to move away from the cartoon worlds of his last few films.
The new caretaker of the Addams stories, Pamela Pettler, also wrote the screenplay for the beguiling 9, which couldn’t find an audience but remains an impressively dark and mature outing. Pettler’s voice could be an ideal outlet for an all-new rendering of the Addams, who still deserve a place in the deep, creepy cellars of our hearts.
The Addams Family is currently in development at MGM.