Rob Zombie making a ‘family comedy’ wasn’t something anyone thought they would ever write. The divisive horror filmmaker and metal madman isn’t known for a light or warm touch. And it’s far from a sure thing that the world was asking for modern take on The Munsters. Nostalgia comes and goes in waves, Hollywood already went through its phase of remaking 1960s television shows into movies. Generation X and Baby Boomers enjoyed Barry Sonnenfeld’s update of The Addams Family in 1991. But it’s been over 30 years now and it’s hard to imagine Generation Z or Millennials getting excited about The Munsters.
After 150 years, vampire Lily still hasn’t found the monster of her dreams. But her luck changes when she catches her first look at newly animated monster, the 7-foot-tall Herman Munster. It’s love at first site as Herman and Lily’s romance takes them from Transylvania to sunny California.
The Munsters Wastes Fun Set Designs With Lack of Story and Juvenile Humor
First and foremost, The Munsters is a bad movie. Regardless of how you choose to evaluate something on screen, this is just a really bad movie. While it’s admirable to see writer and director Rob Zombie try something new, it just doesn’t work. And there’s a long list of things here that don’t pass muster. If there’s one thing Zombie gets right, it’s the movie’s tone. Of course, this doesn’t mean he faithfully re-creates the 60s television sitcom. In fact, baby boomers may hardly recognize the Herman and Lily Munster on screen. However, Zombie’s The Munsters is certainly breezy and light enough for kids. Too bad not even less discerning kids will find this one very funny. That is, the jokes here are clunky and flat enough to require their own laugh track.
In fact, baby boomers may hardly recognize the Herman and Lily Munster on screen.
On the plus side, the set designs are colorful and fun. From start to finish, The Munsters exists in a wildly imaginative world, but its story and characters just don’t do much alongside the fantastic visuals. Among its worst offences, Zombie forgot to pen a story to give his remake a reason to exist. Stuff just sort of happens. Basically, Zombie has crafted an origin story for how Herman and Lily Munster met, fell in love, and ended up stuck amidst ‘normal’ people. Things happen in between – there’s a subplot about Lily’s hapless werewolf brother in debt to a woman who wants The Count’s Transylvanian mansion that feels like it should propel some necessary conflict. It doesn’t. And the movie just ends abruptly.
The Munsters Suffers From Zombie’s Penchant for Miscasting Key Roles
Not surprisingly, The Munsters also suffers from the same problems with miscast that plague most of Zombie’s work. To be fair to the cast, no one could come out looking good reciting this dialogue. Nonetheless, Sheri Moon Zombie finds herself again miscast in her husband’s work as Lily Munster. Contrary to some critics’ opinions, Moon Zombie was excellent as ‘Baby Firefly‘ and she’s quite good depending on the role. But she’s a bad fit for the comedic material. Though his Herman Munster feels off from the Fred Gwynne characterization, Jeff Daniel Phillips actually acquits himself quite well. Everyone else just looks sort of embarrassed to be in the movie.
Nonetheless, Sheri Moon Zombie finds herself again miscast in her husband’s work as Lily Munster.
Perhaps the biggest problem facing The Munsters is the question of its target audience. Baby Boomers grew up with the original series in the 1960s, and Generation X likely caught the series in syndication on weekday morning. But Zombie’s frenetic style will most likely keep Boomers away. They’re certainly going to struggle to see the similarities between Zombie’s homage and their nostalgia. And Generation Z has likely never heard of the character. Maybe older Millennials will recognize the intellectual property, which doesn’t mean they’ll watch it. Arguably, The Munsters best chance is small kids scrolling through Netflix and landing on it.
The Munsters is … Not a Very Good Movie
What else can be said about Rob Zombie’s attempt at lighthearted family comedy? The Munsters is just not a good movie on any standard or metric. Yes, the sets are fun and wild looking creating a colorful world for the characters to inhabit. But the comedy is flat and juvenile. Zombie provides no story direction whatsoever to give his remake a reason to exit. While Jeff Daniel Phillips somewhat captures the essence of ‘Herman Munster’, the rest of the cast feels woefully miscast. Though a Netflix release now makes sense, it’s hard to imagine for whom this movie will appeal.