Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Addams Family Values (1993)

Amanda: "Why are you dressed like that? Why are you dressed like somebody died?"
Wednesday: "Wait."

 Title: Addams Family Values
Genre: Comedy
Year: 1993
Rated: PG-13

Joan Cusack as Debbie Jellinsky
Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams
Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester
Raul Julia as Gomez Addams
Anjelica Huston as Morticia Addams

Plot: A black widow posing as a nanny takes care of the Addams' new baby, sends Wednesday and Pugsley to camp, and attempts to seduce Uncle Fester.

Tagline: The family just got a little stranger.

First Viewing: Rented on VHS in the early 90's.
Added to the list: A.B.T.

I have recently discovered, much to my personal delight, that Addams Family Values is the first movie I ever saw in theatres...sort of. It's a sliver of a memory. I was at the theater with my dad. (I'm certain it was more his idea to see the movie than it was me.) We were about halfway through the movie when the projector broke and we walked out with a full refund.

Not the best story, I know. But little did me or my father know that AFV would one day be one of my favorite movies of all time. After moving to Oakesdale, I remember it being on TBS (or was it TNT?) a lot. It was a Thanksgiving standby that I looked forward to every year. With repeated viewings, I grew to love it, and thusly, added it to my list.

Really, what can you say about Addams Family Values? It's funny. No more, no less. It's not one of those comedy films that is trying to say something about American society (Borat, cough, cough) nor is it a movie trying to appeal to a specific demographic (Fanboys). AFV is just a really, really, really funny movie.

It's a sequel to 1991's aptly titled The Addams Family which was based on a 60's sitcom also called The Addams Family which was based on a single paneled comic strip in The New Yorker...also named The Addams Family. The family consists of patriarch Gomez, his wife Morticia, their children Wednesday and Pugsley, their grandmother (Grandmama), Uncle Fester, Cousin Itt, their butler Lurch, and dismembered hand, Thing. They are all obsessed with the macabre, which makes it prime entertainment for the early 90's.

In the first movie, the titular family is reunited with the long lost, brainwashed Uncle Fester. At least, that's what I recall. I've only seen the first movie a few times, and many years ago. Truthfully, the sequel is the superior film. I think this is the general consensus among movie watchers everywhere. I am not here to compare and contrast the two. I just wanted you all to know of this movie's back story.

Addams Family Values introduces several new characters, but most importantly, Baby Pubert, who serves a plot device and Debbie Jellinsky, the nanny who is hired to take care of said plot device. Debbie is a black widower who sets her sights on lonely, rich men, marries them, murders them, and runs off with their money. When Wednesday and Pugsley get wise to Debbie's game, she manipulates Gomez and Morticia into believing the kids want to go to summer camp, despite any protests they may voice.

Wednesday and Pugsley are sent to Camp Chippewa, a stereotypical summerland of fun for "privileged young adults". To say the least, the Addams kids don't fit in. The head counselors Gary Granger and Becky Martin-Granger and Wednesday's bunkmate, Amanda Buckman, make it particularly difficult. However, they find a friend in nebbish, nerdy Joel Glicker.

Meanwhile, back at the mansion, Debbie succeeds in making Uncle Fester fall in love with her. Gomez and Morticia also encourage the match. The two are married, and right on par, Debbie attempts to kill him on their Hawaiian honeymoon. But being fucking Uncle Fester, he survives when she throws an 80's boombox into his tub.

Debbie decides to use this to her advantage and enslaves Fester into a "sexual spell". He writes his family telling them he can never see them again. Gomez falls into depression. Baby Pubert becomes a golden locked angel. And Wednesday and Pugsley ruin Camp Chippewa's Thanksgiving play, A Turkey Named Brotherhood, before escaping to freedom.

After another thwarted murder attempt, Debbie somehow manages to hook the entire family up to electric chairs to kill them all simultaneously. While she shows them a slide show of her awful life and former husbands, some shit happens and Pubert saves the day. Debbie is dead, and the Addams resume their lives. Uncle Fester even meets a new gal, Dementia, who is bald just like him.

Like I said, not the most clever or original movie ever made. But it's funny. Most of the humor comes from the awesome one liners. And how! The entire script is made of one liners. Zing after zing after zing. It gets to be predictable after awhile, but you don't care, because you are laughing so hard.

Here are some of my personal favorites (other than the one at the top):

Pugsley: What does chippewa mean?
Gomez: It's an old Indian word.
Wednesday: It means orphan.

Morticia: Wednesday's at that age when a young girl has only one thing on her mind.
Amanda's Mom: Boys?
Wednesday: Homicide. 

Amanda: Is that your bathing suit?
Wednesday: Is that your overbite? 

Debbie: These Addams men, where do you find them?
Morticia: It has to be damp.

[While reading The Cat in the Hat.]
Morticia: I know it is wet, and the sun is not sunny. But we can have lots of good fun that is funny. [turns the page] Oh no. He lives.

I guess I wouldn't be me if I didn't discuss the romantic subplots within Addams Family Values. First there's Gomez and Morticia who are, as Joel puts it, "very involved with each other." Joel and Fester view them as sort of role models of the ideal romantic couple. Much of Fester's depression comes from not having a relationship just like his brothers.It's very rare in film when a positive, happy marriage is shown. So kudos, Addams Family Values, kudos.

Then there's Joel and Wednesday. Considering how it all turns out, (I won't spoil it for you), I think this is more a gag relationship to show Wednesday's dark character. In the series, Wednesday and Pugsley are children, but due to the actor's aging in the movies, there was a need for more mature plotlines. It's interesting to see how a character like Wednesday would fall in love for the first time, and who she would fall in love with. Overall, the romance in Addams Family Values is not remotely related to my liking it.

Addams Family Values is one of my favorite movies because it makes me laugh so damn much. Sometimes, that's all you need. I love the sarcasm. I love the silliness. Only watching it will do it justice. Only watching it will make you love it too

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