Movies based on television shows more often than not suck. Sequels? Forget it. And yet (and yet and yet)Addams Family Values is satisfying on so many levels. It’s sarcastic. It goes for biting one-liners while wearing a deadpan expression. It has visual gags and a sense of snark that just gets me. There are cheesy points and cheap shots. I shouldn’t like this one as much as I do, and yet I love it. And so, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m not going to deconstruct this one; I’m going to praise it for all its glory. Here are my reasons why I love this film.
|How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
#1 – Pubert
This is one running gag that could have gone south QUICK. A baby isn’t always the safest bet: after about five minutes of being cute, there’s not much left to bring to the table. They can’t deliver dialogue, and the facial expressions can’t be controlled. They’re unstable actors, and as a result, the characters are not fully characters unto themselves most of the time. Pubert though… I love this kid. Come on, the baby has a fucking moustache! And the playtime aspect with Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) and Wednesday (Christina Ricci) is pure sibling-rivalry-left-unchecked gold. Between dropping the kid off the roof and then dressing him up like Marie Antoinette in preparation for a guillotine, it’s hysterical. I always cackle when I hear Wednesday say, “Woe to the republic.”
#2 – The birth
I hate it when a film can’t be bothered to have an ounce of truth in its birth (no, you don’t go to the hospital at the first contraction; you don’t have a first-time birth in two hours; you don’t walk out of the hospital with a flat belly). However, this one makes no attempt at being realistic. It’s all comedy, and it not only knows this – it relishes in it. There’s sultry, seductive lighting on the eyes of Morticia as her husband treats her description of pain like foreplay. There’s barely a wince. Then we move on to the waiting room, which uses the chance of our family adding a member to take a pot shot at the absolutely ridiculous explanations some parents will feed their kids in an attempt to not talk about sex with them. We go from elaborate detail and fantasy to a deadpan one-two punch from Pugsley and Wednesday:
“Our parents are having a baby too.”
“They had sex.”
You had me in the waiting room.
#3 – The nannies
This is brief, but rather fun. The hippy and the stern one felt like filler, but the real magic is the British nanny with the puppet. There’s no attempt at ventriloquism, and it’s patronizing to any kid. The response to the puppet is amazing: Wednesday, with the devil, purring, “Alright, Polly. I’ll clean my room… in exchange for your immortal soul.” The puppet rubbing its hands together is something that I need more of in my life.
#4 – Debbie
Does it not shock you that the one in the pristine white uniform is the homicidal psycho? Just goes to show you that the more teeth that are showing, the more unhinged that person probably is. She’s overly flirty, cloying and passive-aggressive. As time goes on, her makeup and hair get more exaggerated. The true crime show backstory she gets is quickly eclipsed with a truly diabolical deed: sending our kids off to camp. All while sporting impressive cleavage. By the time we get to her childhood backstory – complete with over-the-top slides! – we’ve grown to love the blonde-haired nutjob right along with the rest oft the Addams clan.
|And yet this is strangely attractive.
#5 – Wednesday
Let’s just face it: Wednesday is this whole movie. She is the bomb diggity. She is the fucking shiznit. She has the best lines (“Is that your overbite?”) and has zero fucks to give what anyone else thinks. Ricci does such a good job of wearing her disdain on her sleeve. The best part is that we get to see her growing up (the romance with Joel) coupled with some childlike, age-appropriate behaviors (like wiping Joel’s kiss off of her face). She’s not in a rush to grow up; she just wants to be Wednesday. That’s really the best part: she’s still more focused on remaining true to herself than on making herself over to get the guy. Which, really, is a good message for our girls if you stop and think about it.
#6 – Camp Chippewa
I would have been so upset to go to Camp Chippewa as a kid. In film, though, I am filled with glee that someone else has to experience that absolute nightmare of a summer. The Grangers (the perfect Peter MacNicol and Christine Baranski) are the definition of pure evil. Let’s set aside how nasty they are to anyone who isn’t white, thin or perky. The Harmony Hut is quite possibly the worst punishment that could be doled out to a thinking indoor kid. Their rendition of “Kumbayah” made me want to hide with Wednesday as well. And then there’s the bald eagle. The look of horror. The gasping. The staring. It’s everything I ever wanted out of an archery lesson and then some.
#7 – The play
Oh is this the crowning moment. Wednesday’s assessment of Gary’s play is so perfect that I’m not going to bother typing it; it’s everything I wish I could say to a poorly-written script. The atrocious dialogue and horrifically inappropriate song (I’ve been known to bust into “Eat me!” while I’m making stuffing at home) is enhanced only by the ham-fisted acting of it. Wednesday’s speech on the plight of Native Americans is the ultimate burn that I think many people should revisit for the social relevance. That it gets followed up by a full-on revolution with raging fires and punishment of the upper class cements that it manages to combine comedy with scathing social commentary. Enjoyable all the way.
|Pocahontas she ain’t.
In the end, Fester gets his perfect match and Wednesday gets to keep being her deranged, homicidal self. All is well with the world. And for this, I am eternally grateful.