Addams Family Values

The Addams family home is all shook up: the kids are playing Marie Antoinette with a real, working guillotine with their new mustachioed baby brother Pubert, and Gomez and Morticia have brought in a new nanny named Debbie to sort them all out. Uncle Fester of course falls madly in love with her.

There’s just one problem. Well, clearly there’s more than one. But the big one, aside from Wednesday and Pugsley trying to kill their baby brother, is that Debbie (Joan Cusack) is a black widow. She has a nasty habit of marrying wealthy men and murdering them on their wedding night. And Fester (Christopher Lloyd) is indeed a wealthy man. Well, he’s wealthy anyway. And he’s smitten.

The rest of the Addams family, not so much. Gomez (Raul Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston) try to wish him well, even when he cuts them out of his life, but little Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman), though somewhat neutered by summer camp, are naturally more suspicious. But now that he’s estranged, can anyone possibly reach him before it’s too late?

Addams Family Values is a rare sequel that seems to have gained in momentum from the first. It introduces new characters that add new dimensionality to the family. Fester really comes into his own in this film, and Joan Cusack is an absolute dish. It’s also exceedingly fun to watch the Addams siblings do a sleepaway camp. Never have two people belonged anywhere less. And the way in which they ruin a historically inaccurate play is the absolute most fun. I could watch this as a spin-off all day long. I should also note that Granny gets replaced in the sequel; Carol Kane replaces her. And Carol Kane is god. She’s also younger than Huston, who plays her daughter, but watcha gonna do? Huston gamely gets back into character, and I love the way they’re lighting her face, with just a beam of light across her eyes. It’s so strikingly different from everyone else in the room. And I know I said this last time, but I’ll say it again: Christina Ricci is a child actor tough to outdo. She really nails Wednesday and makes sure the kids aren’t just placeholders in these films.

All told, Addams Family Values good fun. It’s not great, but it’s like training wheels for future horror fanatics and the freaks and creeps in all of us.

26 thoughts on “Addams Family Values

  1. Spoilt Victorian Child

    Love this film. Ricci is like me as a Goth thirteen year old… Evergreen stuff! Retains the wit, while rejuvenating the format. I dread to think what the new cartoon will be like.

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  2. ninvoid99

    I love this film. Notably for Wednesday getting her revenge on that awful blonde bitch and calling out on her privilege. I was 12 years old when me and my younger sister saw it and we were like “kill that fucking bitch!”

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  3. Christopher

    I love how this one raises questions about who’s “normal” and who’s a “good” person or a “bad” person without overdoing it. In the end Morticia even comments on how much she and Debbie have in common.
    But I have two problems with Carol Kane as Grandmama: the first is she isn’t given nearly enough to do, and the second is that she wasn’t in the first film.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, she just slides into the role, no comment. And then brutally underused. But with so much time away from the house, we don’t spend nearly enough time with anyone.

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