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Quick Review: The Munsters
Prepare For The Strangest Love Story Ever Told
The following is my review for the film The Munsters. A reminder, you can click this link to see how I grade films when I review them.
Herman and Lily’s crazy courtship takes The Munsters on a hauntingly hilarious trip from Transylvania to Hollywood.
It may not be the most popular opinion in some circles, but I actually do appreciate and like Rob Zombie as a Director. Granted I can’t think of one film of his that I would say I outright love, but I do generally like the stuff he pumps out. I even cop to not minding his two Halloween remakes! His vision for how to showcase a story of the macabre is always different and yet a style that is undeniably and easily identified as all his own. And it probably helps that I actually like his music as well.
Zombie however really shook up the internet when word got out he was going to be directing a film based on the iconic television sitcom classic The Munsters, a sort of rival series to The Adams Family. Given my history with Zombie’s movies and having watched the series when I was a kid back when it was running in syndication at ‘Nick At Nite'‘ on the Nickelodeon channel, I was willing to give this a try.
Then the trailer hit and boy was that one of the worst trailers to a film I’ve ever bared witness to. The quality looked cheap in terms of direction, editing, lighting, and the line delivery and jokes were Sharknado bad. Truly this had to be a gag trailer versus what the actual final product was going to look like?
To make things more confusing the film originally was marketed to be a Peacock release from Universal but without almost any fanfare they gave the movie over to Netflix last second followed by a release this past Tuesday on the streaming giant that garnered literally zero marketing. Even I, someone who keeps his eyes ahead towards the film release calendar, had no idea this was coming out until literally the day of when it showed up on my Netflix splash page.
Given I was (and of this writing still am) dealing with the stresses of Hurricane prep and survival down here in central Florida as Ian causes cancellation after cancellation of screenings, I figured I’d give it a chance.
First let me get the negatives out of the way. This is just as cheap-looking as the trailer told us it was going to be. Its as baffling unfunny as well. Zombie for whatever reason chose to present the movie in a style of what you would expect from a cheap straight to TV film that came out in the early 2000s. I also get the sense he was deliberate in the cringe, campy, and ironic humor this film goes for but I’m not sure his vision translated to a quality product where the audience can get in on the jokes. What was an attempt to to recreate a fifties comedy in film form eventually ends up a cheesy looking and unfunny film that will do nothing to create new generations of fans for the classic series.
But I will cop to not despising the movie as much as I did the trailer either. I did chuckle two or three times, and I did think the performances from the leads in Jeff Daniel Phillips as Herman, Sheri Moon Zombie as Lily, and Daniel Roebuck as Grandpa, were all executed with a commitment to the characters and how Zombie wanted to present them (In comparison to the rest of the cast which felt like they either over-acted or lacked any enthusiasm for the project).
But the biggest highlight of this film comes from the amazing production design, costumes, and hair/makeup. From that standpoint Zombie hit a home run in making this world come to life - I just wish he did the same with every other part of the film.
From what I understand this movie is also releasing on physical media alongside its Netflix availability and if you’re asking me I wouldn’t say I outright recommend this movie but if you really do badly want to check it out then the multiple home-media options are the way to go because this would surely not have been worth a trip to the theatre. At the end of the day I found The Munsters to be a movie with great design to it, but a missed opportunity overall for an iconic series that deserved better.