Tag Archives: Christopher Lloyd

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.

Advertisements

The Addams Family (1991)

The Addams family are a bunch of creeps, goths, freaks, and misfits. Merry makers of mayhem but also a paragon of suburban goals: a husband who adores his wife, a father who dotes on his children, a mother-in-law’s presences embraced and appreciated, children allowed to test the boundaries of their identity, given the space to think deeply and creatively, inventing games and new forms of play. There are few such tight-knit, loving nuclear families depicted on screen today.

Still, the Addams family isn’t quite normal. Mother Morticia (Anjelica Huston) has a sickly pallor and father Gomez (Raul Julia) an obsession with seances. Daughter Wednesday (Christina Ricci) has devised a game called “Is there a god?” and brother Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) allows himself to be electrocuted in its name. The family is attended to by a grunting butler named Lurch (Carel Struycken) and a detached hand. Their fondness for the macabre, and for weaponry in particular, might intimidate most guests, but longtime lawyer Tully (Dan Hedaya) is quite used to their eccentricities, and Gomez’s grief over a 25-year estrangement with brother Fester has left him vulnerable in a way that makes the financially strapped lawyer’s eyes glisten. He enlists an imposter to pose as Fester (Christopher Lloyd) in order to claim the family’s fortune.

Cher wanted the role of Morticia and Kim Basinger briefly had it, but it was Anjelica Huston who had to suffer through the transformation. To give her eyes the signature slant, make-up artists attached strings with spirit gum to the outside corners of her eyes, tugging them to give them a lift, and anchoring the strings to her head. If you think that sounds painful, it’s only because you haven’t yet heard about the metal corset that gave her figure that very structured look. A restrictive dress gives her walk the wiggle. And some neck lifts and long fake nails and you’re almost there.

Meanwhile, I think my favourite performance comes from a very young Christina Ricci, who has to be one of the world’s most consistently good child actors, serving up many iconic roles before she even hit puberty.

The family is unfortunately a little failed by the script, which never quite works as well as it should. But the happy news is, we’re soon to have another dose of our favourite spooky family, in theatres this weekend – an animated version with Oscar Isaac as Gomez, Charlize Theron as Morticia, Chloe Grace Moretz as Wednesday, Finn Wolfhard as Pugsley, Nick Kroll as Fester, Snoop Dogg as It, and more. Lots more. Can’t wait.

SXSW: Boundaries

Laura is making her therapist proud by making and enforcing some strong, much-needed boundaries with her father. She’s also lying to her therapist about plenty of things, including the actual number of rescue animals currently residing in her home, and in her purse on the floor of the therapist’s office. But Laura’s father Jack is very good at testing boundaries, and right now, he’s a man in need. His retirement residence is kicking him out, and if Laura is unprepared to house him in the home she shares with her teenage son Henry, the least she can do is drive him cross-country to her sister’s home in L.A.. Right?

MV5BMTY5NzMzNTcwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDg0MTc3NDM@._V1_Laura (Vera Farmiga) loves her son, and her pets, and against all odds, her father. Her son is a sensitive, gym-hating, naked-picture-drawing type (Lewis MacDougall) who’s just been permanently expelled from school. Her rescued pets are a rag-tag, flea-ridden circus of mange, as pathetic as they are cute. Her dad (Christopher Plummer) is a drug dealer and a rapscallion through and through, and terminally charming.

The cast works together as a dysfunctional unit. Director Shana Feste puts together a trio that doesn’t seem like a natural fit but somehow it works – perhaps because they’re all sort of loners in their way, much like the abandoned animals they pick up along the way, and they find a reluctant companionship that turns into some genuine, heartening chemistry onscreen. Toss in a dash of Bobby Cannavale, a splash of Christopher Lloyd (and Christopher Lloyd’s balls, as Farmiga was quick to recall, and not without a blush), and sprinkling of Peter Fonda…my goodness, it’s a bowl of mixed nuts,  more salty than sweet, but it went down mighty well.

I saw this at SXSW when I’d also just seen You Can Choose Your Family, and made me think: good lord, these directors have daddy issues. But I guess all art comes out of some frustration, some need to prove something to someone. But since father issues are nearly universal, I suppose these films feel at once familiar but also just removed enough that we can laugh at them, enjoy a moment of catharsis because someone else has it just a little tougher than you. Collectively the audience will laugh, and will emit a sigh of relief for having survived this awkward family trip.

 

 

 

Thanks for keeping up with our frantic SXSW coverage. We’re posting so frequently you may have missed Sean’s great review of The Director and The Jedi, or my review of the truly astonishing Blindspotting, or Matt’s review of the documentary From All Corners.