Sometimes I wonder if Hollywood executives bother to listen to the fictional characters they help to create. For example, I think whenever a director or screenwriter, or one of those Hollywood bigwigs sits down to give the thumbs up/down to a film they should first watch that scene in Jurassic Park (1993). You know, the one where Ian Malcolm says, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
I know The Munsters is just a movie about monsters that take up residence in a 1960’s style suburbia. However, just because you can make a film that reboots a beloved television show doesn’t mean that you should. Director and writer Rob Zombie didn’t care about whether he should, he just did because he loved the series. Loving a television or book series is not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. However, when you take that original source material and create your own work from it using the same setting and/or characters… you get fanfiction.
And that’s exactly what The Munsters feel like, a fanfiction version of the original source material. It’s a weird mashup of old and new film techniques. The scene transitions, the swaying camera, the zooming in on faces, and the coloring swirl together to create an odd watching experience.
According to an article from Variety.com, Zombie wasn’t allowed to film the movie in black and white like the original show, so he decided to go with a “ludicrously colorful, hyper saturated aesthetic.” It just doesn’t make for fun movie watching.
The movie serves as a prequel to the television show. It tells the tale of how Herman is created, how Herman and Lily fall in love, and how the family immigrates to California. They explain that the Munsters originally come from the country of Transylvania where monsters are the norm. When they cross the pond and settle in at Mockingbird Lane, they discover that they aren’t the majority anymore, but the minority. Now, if Zombie had been a bit bolder, he might have leaned into that aspect of the Munsters being the minority, but the film abruptly ends at that point.
We have to talk about the comedy aspect of this film since it is meant to be funny. It’s really not funny at all though, because most of the jokes are dad jokes and puns. And while I love a good corny joke or well-placed pun, they just keep on coming. It gets old maybe a quarter way through the film. If you want a good drinking game, take a shot when you hear a pun. It might not be good for your liver, but it’ll make the remainder of the film barely passable.
The film also suffered from bad casting choices. I understand that Rob Zombie has his normal crew that he likes to use. Quentin Tarantino and other directors share that similar quality. However, Zombie isn’t in the PG rated children’s comedy business. He’s in the hardcore, blood and guts, horror business. A cast that has some sort of grasp on comedy would’ve been nice. The only casting choice I found to be decent was Daniel Roebuck as The Count.
Consistency is also lacking throughout the film. I admit, I’m nitpicking this film, but when you have a 1960 setting, you really shouldn’t have a DJ mixing music on a couple of laptops blaring techno during a California block party.
Overall, this film is a dud. If you want to watch the antics of the Munster family with your children, don’t watch this film. Just watch the original series. You’ll be happier about it.
The Munsters is rated PG for macabre and suggestive material, scary images and language. If you still want to watch it, it is being streamed on Netflix.
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