Monday, December 20, 2010

Movie Review : The Addams Family Values (1993)



Country:

USA

Recognizable Faces:

Raul Julia
Christina Ricci
Joan Cusack
Christopher Lloyd

Directed By:

Barry Sonnenfeld



I fucking love the Addams family. I used to watch the cartoons with a quasi-religious diligence (I saw the whole show more than once). The Saturday morning super heroes made their time with me, but the spooky New Jersey family managed to stay with me as I grew up. I suspect I'm not alone. Believe it or not, they were born out of Charles Addams' brain in a 1933 number of The New Yorker, which makes them the most (and only) funny cartoon to ever grace this magazine. I always thought they were a wonderful statement against conformity. They are a loving, caring and FUNCTIONAL family, despite looking like rejects from a Tim Burton movie. They live up to their Hollywood catch phrase: "Weird is relative". And yesterday, they were on TV, on an artsy national channel.

Family Values is the second movie made with the Addams family, with Barry Sonnenfeld behind the wheel. They are placed in this deliciously cliché situation where Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) falls in love with the new nanny Debbie (Joan Cusack). She was hired because Wednesday (Ricci) got jealous of newborn Pubert (Kaitlin Hooper) and tried to deal about it like only she can. Gomez (Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston) then hilariously do what every responsibly parent do, they hired Debbie and sent the kids to a summer camp while Pubert settles in the house. Then the movie splits in half. One part is about Fester, falling prey to Debbie, who is in reality a dangerous black widow and the second part is about Wednesday and my personal favorite Pugsley, who try to figure their way out of a camp that bears eerie similaries with nazi P.O.W camps (a wink to The Great Escape if you ask me). But having Wednesday and Pugsley Addams under your responsibility is a lot worse than having to deal with Steve McQueen.

This is obviously a very cliché movie, but the fun part is that the Addams can't help but to corrupt whatever they touch, with their mix of over-the-top slapstick humor and subtle social puns. The plot will pull no punches, but it's not very important. The movie makes a point. You don't need to be like the others to be happy. It's illustrated through the long, passionate and melancholic rants of Gomez about his troubled relationship with his brother Fester (noticeably the most hilarious scene of the movie where Gomez goes to the police station and tries to convince an agent that Debbie is a bad person). Through Wednesday's disgust with the summer camp's racial and historical fallacy and also through the loving relationship in between Gomez and Morticia.

You can argue that the Addams' have been stating the same thing since 1993, which is true, but I can never get enough of their happiness. They stand up to occidental society with debonnaire. It's been seventeen years since The Addams Family Values came out and their presence in the mainstream media have been scarce ever since, but I don't think they are bound to disappear. They are a vigorous remedy to that 1950s monolithic suburban family portrait that still haunt collective consciousness. They will always be relevant.

SCORE: 85%


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5 comments:

  1. I liked this movie but the first Addams Family movie was my favorite movie as a kid, so this one can't help but pale in comparison. I now want to find my (VHS) copies and watch both of them again.

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  2. That's awesome. I love this movie. You're right; it's clichéd and even a little silly, but it's so much fun. Everything about it works. The music, the acting, the dialog. The hardest part of making a movie from another medium is staying true to the source material, especially if the material, like a comic strip, isn't heavy on plot. Also, there's something about a film where you call tell everyone involved just had a ball making it. This is one of those movies I could just watch over and over without ever getting board.

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  3. I'm glad both of you share my tastes for the Addams! Who's your favorite character? I like Pugsley. He's the most well-balanced and self-reliant fatty in the history of fiction. And yet he's a total psycho. I laughed out loud when he shot down the bald eagle.

    @Red: I remember the first one being better too. Now I want to see it again. Might go buy the DVD in my lunch hour.

    @Dan: It is, everybody seems to have so much fun playing. I always say even bad actors can play over-the-top roles, but when good actors do?

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  4. I loved Wednesday. Pugsley was fun but he seemed almost too normal. Wednesday's Halloween costume from the first movie was great. "I'm a homicidal maniac. They look just like everyone else."

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  5. Pugsley was portrayed very differently from a medium to the other. In the cartoon, he's a chemistry genius and he experiments with explosives around the house. Visitors are scared as hell, but Gomez and Morticia dismissed it as harmless child's fun. He changed a lot in the movie, but I thought the actor they chose conveyed well the self-confidence of Pugsley.

    I also have a soft spot for Cousin Itt

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