FRESH ON 4K: THE ADDAMS FAMILY and THE WOLF OF WALL STREET round out a big year in studio home video while THE LONG GOODBYE offers a shaggy dog approach to comedy

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James Clay// Film Critic

THE LONG GOODBYE, THE ADDAMS FAMILY AND THE WOLF OF WALL STREET are available at all major online retailers

THE ADDAMS FAMILY

Rated PG, 99 minutes.
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Cast: Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci

Barry Sonnenfeld’s THE ADDAMS FAMILY never truly has gotten its due in popular culture, but the oddly Transylvanian family were in the top 10 highest-grossing films of 1991. Sonnenfeld came up with a campy world that was a satirical send-up of suburbanites with a devilish spin. His distinct brand of humor pushed the boundaries with good taste yet still kept the humor fun for the whole family. Sadly it feels like Tim Burton stole a lot of his thunder. 

 Sonnenfeld has always had an apparent itch to revisit this strange film and add more Mamushka dance sequences to the reels. But, unfortunately, the scene was cut down by studio executives by two minutes. So now, 30 years later, Sonnenfeld is getting the chance to right that wrong. The result is some of the gorgeous home entertainment to hit shelves this year.

 THE ADDAMS FAMILY is the new gold standard for studio 4K discs. This film is incredibly lush with color palettes mimicking the technicolor beauties of the midcentury. It always makes the difference when a director is involved with the physical media release, and in this case, it shows immensely. One look at the opening and the first time Anjelica Huston comes on screen, you’re bound to be shocked by the quality. 

Not only is this film an astounding release the film holds up even better upon rewatches. A couple of years ago, Paramount released a double feature of this film and ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES, and even though I gave those films a positive review, watching it again on 4K, I was shrieking with laughter. The script is sharp, the humor ranges from witty, to physical and most importantly, the personality of the characters meshes with the filmmaker’s voice. Sonnenfeld went on to direct MEN IN BLACK, which was an even bigger hit, but it’s easy to see this film comes from the heart. And that’s what makes it unique. 

RENT/BUY: I feel like I’ve said this numerous times this year, but this is the best-looking studio-released 4K disc of the year. Buy it immediately if you’re remotely a fan of THE ADDAMS FAMILY. This release has demo disc quality. 

GRADE: A

Our editor Preston Barta’s interview with director Barry Sonnenfeld

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Rated R, 180 minutes.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margo Robbie

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET is undeniably one of the last decade’s best films. An indictment on wealth, greed, and masculinity that would only work if the audience was able to travel inside the belly of the beast. Leonardo Dicaprio’s performance as Jordan Belfort, a self-proclaimed “telephone terrorist” who scammed millions in penny stocks, is easily one of his top-tier roles, and you got Scorsese behind the camera. 

A staggering three-hour-long runtime, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, feels about half that length with its buttery pacing filled with deplorable behavior and rapid-fire one-liners that takes the film from one plot occurrence to the next. Scorsese, DiCaprio, and editor Thelma Schoonmaker made a primal film that’s wild and has to be seen to catch some of WOLF’S truly palpable energy.

Rent/Buy: Paramount Home Entertainment utilized the 8th anniversary of the film’s theatrical release to send out the 4K to shelves, and the result is about average. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET is fairly cut and dry visually as most of the film takes place in dingy offices, but the visual presentation is satisfactory. As far as upgrading from the blu ray release, there is a difference in the audio, and the inclusion of Dolby Vision is an improvement if you have the equipment. However, the special features are the same and the case comes with a nice yellow spine slipcover. Overall, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET is worth the upgrade. 

Grade: B

THE LONG GOODBYE

Rated R, 113 minutes.
Director: Robert Altman
Cast: Elliot Gould, Nina Van Palladant, Sterling Hayden

Maverick filmmaker Robert Altman (THE PLAYER, SHORTCUTS, NASHVILLE) was never one to be kept in a box. If you watch or have watched a handful of his films (the great ones) are brimming with life, movement, and sardonic humor. He knew how to take the audience on an adventure while staying grounded to human emotion. Apparently, the guy just loved people and loved to tell stories. 

His slinky 1973 noir, THE LONG GOODBYE, is one of his most celebrated efforts. That’s largely due to its leading man Elliot Gould’s mumbling, meandering, the smart-mouthed portrayal of Phillip Marlowe’s private eye. This film is an entertaining yarn that has a cast of great character actors, including Sterling Hayden, who are given the space to run wild. The film is rabidly against authoritarianism and celebrates life as one big hangout, so in short, this movie is excellent. THE LONG GOODBYE is a celebration of being your person and sticking to your convictions. 

Marlow (Gould) begins the film strolling around Los Angeles looking for a particular brand of cat food for his sometimes pet cat. The excursion at 3 AM turns into a peak inside Marlowe’s world through the eyes of Altman and his legendary cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (DELIVERANCE). From there, Marlowe spirals into a weird world of cheating, murder, hunky dudes, sketchy crime lords, and police brutality. THE LONG GOODBYE captures Altman’s distinct style and voice in the best ways.

RENT/BUY Thankfully Kino Lorber has released the film with an updated slipcover that features hand-drawn original artwork. In addition, this little package comes with the historical context the film deserves, including a retro documentary that details the film’s life from inception to screen. This 70s classic captures the era with a shagginess that perfectly epitomizes the decade, and who better than Kino Lorber to be a connoisseur of context. 

GRADE: A-

About author

James C. Clay

James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.