Eddie Munster cannot bring himself to celebrate Christmas in California so all his family tries to find ways to help him.
“Hey, I thought Elf tossing was Thursday nights!”
My biggest problem with this 1996 Munster’s movie is the cast.
The 1964 television series had an iconic cast that made the show so popular today. Fred Gwynne played Herman Munster in the original movie and was so popular in the role that anytime I saw him after that, whether it was as a judge in My Cousin Vinny or as the neighbor in Pet Sematary, I could only picture him as Herman Munster. Al Lewis was so brilliant in his role as grandpa that they parodied him in Gremlins 2 with a character that I swore for years was Al Lewis. Unfortunately, in this movie version of the show, neither Sam McMurray as Hermann nor Sandy Baron as grandpa held a candle to the original actors and that kept me from being able to enjoy the movie.
The story began with Eddie not feeling like he could enjoy Christmas in his new home of California. His family decided to step in to help him with his troubles. Herman believes that Eddie would be happy if he got a toy straight from Transylvania. His mother Lily decides that he needs a sense of community and enters them in a holiday decorating contest. Marilyn decides the best course of action is to invite relatives from the old country for the holidays. Grandpa decides to use his mastery of alchemy to make it snow. Things get out of hand when grandpa accidentally transports Santa to the house.
My second problem with the movie is its lack of humor.
Too much time is spent on dumb, juvenile humor which might be found humorous by young children but the movie is also full of adult humor that fails on the same level as the juvenile humor. People run away every time they see Herman. Ha Ha. Grandpa is full of himself and while he believes he is a genius, he fails at all his experiments. Ha Ha. Everything that Lily creates in her macabre Christmas decorations are misinterpreted as artistic. Ha Ha. The worst part might be grandpa’s stupid one liners delivered with no comic timing whatsoever. I don’t see how anyone, kids or adults, would find this movie funny.
The best part of the story is Eddie’s distress over Christmas and that was kept a little too much in the background. There are also subplots concerning Marilyn’s romantic interest in a local musician, a nosy neighbor’s attempts to one up Lily’s Christmas decorations and two elves’ desire to do whatever it takes to end Christmas. The individual subplots do nothing but tangle up the story and make it a jumbled mess.
The original television show had a charm that made it memorable. A satire of both the monster movie and typical family entertainment such as Leave it to Beaver, The Munster’s proved to be an original and very entertaining. This movie is a shell of the television show on which it was based. With stupid humor, a weak plot and a complete lack of focus it is an embarrassment to what made its predecessor successful.
I will give it small points for a few eye rolling chuckles, though, just not enough to recommend to anyone.
The movie is presented in full frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The only extras are previews for other DVDs and an ad for High Definition DVDs.