I remember my sister regularly watching a television show about a family, it was filled with a terrifying atmosphere, as it felt (even as a child) like some sort of grotesque parody of a functioning family. Unsurprisingly I hated it, every single time she would “steal” the TV and i would be forced to watch the inane further adventures of those horrible grinning teeth behind those dead waxen faces, it was the closest thing to torture i had experienced in my young life.
Indeed, The Brady Bunch left far more of a negative impact then the Addams family could ever have. As the family unit that my sister, mother, and i resembled nothing like that hideous caricature. Luckily my sister also liked the Addams’, and so we got along with at least that.
Interestingly enough John Astin himself made the comment that the Addams family were the best role models on television, and quite frankly i have to agree. Despite their penchant for the strange and the ghoulish ultimately they are quite a happy family.
As for the films, the first film of this series is one of the few that my sister watched more than i did.
Watch everyone’s favorite family of creeps get involved with mamushka’s, gory school plays, murderous family members, and dead strippers.
The absolute best part of The Addams Family, is inarguably Raul Julia. Just look at this face!
I mean look at that man! I can watch that on repeat forever really, i hadn’t until recently seen this movie for more than a decade, but the one thing i remember most clearly is that one shot. Julia’s comic timing, expressions, and physical performances all come together into a perfect performance. No one, and i mean no one can ever convince me that there was/is/ever will be a better Gomez Addams.
That’s not to say that anyone else is poorly chosen, after all what would Gomez be without Morticia? Anjelica Huston fills out that role beautifully, giving her Morticia a dark grace, and elegant beauty that is hard to match. In fact the entire cast from Christopher Lloyd’s wide eyed Fester, to Christina Ricci’s quiet and intense Wednesday is quite perfect.
Visually the movie carries itself with an atmosphere that is both delicate and gritty, thanks in no small part to Richard Macdonald’s production design, Margie Mcshirley’s Art Direction, and Owne Roizman’s cinematography.
Marc Shaiman’s wonderful music compliments the visuals perfectly, and his themes here are some of the most memorable ones from my childhood.
Critically Addams Family Values did better than its prequel, as it was praised for its darker atmosphere. Indeed, when Lurch is shown to have killed a stripper by baking her in the cake she was meant to jump out of, and the whole ordeal is brushed off by Gomez with a casual (and hilarious) “C’est la vie”. Or when Wedesday and Pugsley plot to kill their new born brother, you know that this movie probably wasn’t meant just for the kids…
But it’s not the black humour that turns me off from Values (far from it actually, it was the right way to go for the sequel), it’s the lack of Raul Julia. Oh he’s in it, and he and Anjelica Huston are just as beautifully matched; but the focus has shifted to Christina Ricci. Don’t get me wrong, while The Addams Family was Ricci’s memorable introduction to the world, Values is her debut. She makes her Wednesday Addams simultaneously creepy and endearing, and is certainly given the lions share of the subplotting. She steals the show, and this is particularly noteworthy as Julia, Huston, Lloyd, and memorably psychotic Joan Cusack are all competing for the best moments.
But damn it all, Raul Julia was the heart and soul of The Addams Family, and when his presence is limited i can’t help but feel the giant gaping hole that is left in the wake of it.
Visually and Aurally memorable The Addams Family and its sequel Addams Family Values form a charming duology. The original remains an early 90’s treat of great performances and a family friendly haunted house atmosphere, while the sequel shakes up what could have been a paint by the numbers follow up with a much darker tone and humour. Both of which are successful directions to take the Addams’.
I think a litmus test is in order though, if you don’t find this scene both funny, disturbing, and yet endearing then you won’t find anything of value in either of these movies, as it perfectly encapsulates both of them:
THE ADDAMS FAMILY
OUT OF FIVE
ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES
OUT OF FIVE