This meticulously composed homage owes far more to Charles Addams's original New Yorker cartoons than to the short-lived 60s TV series. Unfortunately, the filmmakers were so intent on creating the right look and attitude that they neglected to think about the plot; the result is a series

of one-note jokes that no amount of visual style can redeem.

The Addamses are a ghoulish clan delighting in the macabre--the devilish opposite of a rosy, wholesome American family. The debonair Gomez Addams (Raul Julia) and his morbidly elegant wife Morticia (Anjelica Huston) preside over an eccentric household that includes Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and

Pugsley (Jimmy Workman), their precociously diabolical offspring; Lurch (Carel Struycken), their aptly named manservant; and Thing (Christopher Hart), a disembodied hand that serves as the family pet. Into this grim but happy bunch come Abigail Craven (Elizabeth Wilson) and her son Gordon

(Christopher Lloyd), a con artist duo who, in conspiracy with Tully Alford (Dan Hedaya), the Addams's crooked lawyer, plan to make off with the Addams fortune. The plan revolves around the uncanny resemblance between Gordon and Gomez's long-lost brother, Fester (also played by Lloyd).

Cinematographer-turned-director Barry Sonnenfeld and screenwriters Larry Wilson and Caroline Thompson haven't solved the problem of how to construct a film around a one-joke concept, though the production design is a triumph of post-modern Gothic and there are some effective one-liners (Morticia

to a depressed Gomez: "Don't torture yourself, Gomez. That's my job.").