Addams Family Values (1993)
July 15, 2014 9:30 AM - Subscribe

A comical Gothic horror-movie-type family tries to rescue their beloved uncle from his gold-digging new love.
posted by mathowie (36 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure there's ever been a greater production of anything ever than A Turkey Named Brotherhood. Also, the bit where Gomez is in the police station -- that is AMAZING. This is a shockingly good movie overall.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:33 AM on July 15, 2014 [7 favorites]

Is this the only sequel that's better than the original? Probably not, but I can't think of any other ones right now.

Debbie Jellinsky: These Addams men, where do you find them?
Morticia: It has to be damp.
posted by troika at 9:40 AM on July 15, 2014 [12 favorites]

I'm just like any modern woman, trying to have it all -- a loving husband, a family -- it's just that...I wish I had more time to seek out the dark forces and join in their hellish crusade, that's all.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:54 AM on July 15, 2014 [19 favorites]

Watching both Addams Family theatrical movies (there was a third one that went straight TV/obscurity) back-to-back a few months ago, I noticed that the first one is kind of blah -- too sketchy, light on plot -- but the second one holds up really well. The first 15 minutes or so of Values is just about on par with the first one, but then once Debbie shows up and the kids are off to Camp Orphan (I mean, Chippewa), it really takes off.

And I'll say this, I don't care who knows it: Angelica Huston and Raul Julia are better than (the great) Carolyn Jones* and John Astin. Say what you will about these movies, but show me a more pure cinematic representation of passionate, neverending true love.

Raul Julia is clearly having so much fun. And the chemistry between him and Huston is electric.

* If the ghost Carolyn Jones is reading this, please forgive me, my childhood crush on TV's Morticia is still intact I promise.
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:55 AM on July 15, 2014 [10 favorites]

One of my favorite moments of any movie is when Wednesday is talking to the nerdy kid and he says something to the effect of "You know what would happen if I eat [some food]? I die!" and she slowly nudges closer to him on the bench. It's such a sweet moment, but hilarious at the same time. Perfectly played by all.
posted by TwoWordReview at 9:58 AM on July 15, 2014 [7 favorites]

YES! There are a surprising number of ways in which I think this movie was formative for me:

1) Gomez and Morticia as a model of passionate committed love; that tango scene is absolutely electric, as doctornecessiter says, and even though during that dance they both have mild flirtations with other people it is always clearly about them and their passion for each other.

2) Wednesday's sardonic commentary; I wanted to be like that, funny and interesting. I already felt like a "brunette outcast" and she gave me a pre-Daria model for how to make that work without just feeling depressed or being insufferable.

3) Wednesday's bathing suit which is exactly what I would like from all my bathing suits. Also her dress at the wedding; it looked so cool and sexy to me at a point where I was discovering what that meant and how to express myself in that way.

4) Wednesday and Joel -- again, this provided me with a model for how people like me who weren't cool could participate in rituals like first crushes/dating. So many cultural models for "young love" are really romanticized and I felt like an awkward weirdo but I was also very interested in kissing and dating and stuff, and seeing some awkward weirdos who are none-the-less absolutely engaged in that kind of coming-of-age ritual made me feel like I could do it too.

5) Giving me a perspective on WASPy summer camps; I went to a camp like that and it was really interesting to see that represented in a different way, seeing how maybe it looks to people outside that atmosphere. I didn't always fit in there and it felt good to see the people who were cooler and richer than I was represented more in the way I saw them than in the way they saw themselves.

6) The pageant! A few years ago when I taught second grade we had to do a performance for the Winter Assembly and I choreographed a dance to Jingle Bell Rock with this pageant in mind. The kids really enjoyed it and took it seriously and I considered it a brilliant send-up of the entire genre.

7) The whole aesthetic of the family at the wedding -- I have this dream of starting a bar named Teeth (the worst name of which I could think) as basically a bar for Dickensian undertakers. I think pretty much anyone at the wedding would be welcome at Teeth.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:14 AM on July 15, 2014 [9 favorites]

The idea that this gleefully morbid family might connect with someone not just because he's an outcast, but because he's so allergic to everything that he could die at any moment is wonderful. It's not really the same, but it reminds of early in Bates Motel when Norma Bates immediately warmly befriends Emma Decody when she learns that Emma's illness gives her a short life expectancy.

So Joel Glicker and Debbie Jellinsky are both outsiders who make their way into the Addams' inner circle, with opposite motives...Yet neither is allowed to stay (probably, as Joel's potential exit is the film's final punchline and isn't followed up on). I was going to argue that maybe nothing from the "real world" can possibly penetrate and sustain itself within the Addams core for any long amount of time, but then I remembered that Margaret from the first movie did marry Cousin Itt. And I presume that Fester's new love Dementia could go the distance (and hopefully she's not a distant Addams cousin in spite of her look; though there's one joke in this movie -- "What's this? Mom!" -- that suggests that that might not even be a major issue).
posted by doctornecessiter at 10:23 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by The Whelk at 3:30 PM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by The Whelk at 3:31 PM on July 15, 2014 [13 favorites]

And yes, Gomez and Morticia are a GREAT model for a couple that's still passionate and thoughtful AND they're REALLY GOOD PARENTS. and they don't even hate Debbie, they'd be totally willing to accept a serial killer into thier home but it's her own persecution complex and obsession with pastel that dooms it ( find ..finding Fester repulsive doesn't help).

I actually ran into the screenwriter of this movie at a LGBT event and had to stop myself from INTERROGATING HIM. cause I remembered his name from the CREDITS
posted by The Whelk at 3:35 PM on July 15, 2014 [13 favorites]

Sorry for the all caps, but this is one of those movies I unconsciously quote all the time like an early Elizabethan author quoting the bible.. The most cutting things zi can say about someone's interior decor is "Pastels?"
posted by The Whelk at 3:44 PM on July 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

We watched both of these movies back to back last Halloween (which, frankly, should become a tradition as soon as a second Halloween to do so rolls around) and it was incredible how timeless they both are: the special effects are good enough to not be conspicuous, the writing isn't especially linked to a particular era (apparently WASPy summer camps are still a thing??!?!!???!?) and the acting and casting are basically just perfect.

Oh, except for the Mandatory Nineties Rap during the credits. Almost as vicariously uncomfortable as "Gotham City" from the credits of the tragically underrated '60s throwback Batman & Robin.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:54 PM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

WASPy summer camps are so very much still a thing, it's an important part of making sure your kids learn to like cold showers and make the right friends and gives the parents the summer off.
posted by The Whelk at 4:11 PM on July 15, 2014

WASPy summer camps are so very much still a thing, it's an important part of making sure your kids learn to like cold showers and make the right friends and gives the parents the summer off.

I think you're exaggerating on the shower thing; I was always told "true [camp name] girls shower once a week". Of course, we did take dips in a lake in Maine first thing every morning no matter how cold it was, might have a point.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 4:15 PM on July 15, 2014

Raul Julia as Gomez Addams is one of the best casting decisions and best-executed roles ever. Everything he does in both movies is the best thing, especially depressed Gomez in a motel in the first one.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:02 PM on July 15, 2014 [15 favorites]

I hope that someday you'll know the indescribable joy of having children, and of paying someone else to raise them.

Oh yes. I thought I had seen this movie before, but after watching it this past weekend, I'm not so sure any more. To be honest, I am surprised at how good it is.
posted by Literaryhero at 7:51 PM on July 15, 2014

It just reveals rich details on the rewatch.

I dimly remember a conversation I had with someone about this movie in comparison to the first which boiled down to while the first was an (enjoyable) series of one-liners and live-action enactments of Charles Addams cartoon panels (the opening shot is a recreation of a classic cover illustration) the second is actually ABOUT something: the importance of loving someone for who they are and not trying to change them. Debbie hates her parents for not giving her the right Barbie and her ex-husbands for not giving her everything she wants despite the fact that all of them seemed to love her quite genuinely - like Fester, whom she tries to remake and remodel and isolate from his family. The Camp tries to change Wednesday and Joel into being something else, forcing her to smile and ripping away his books.

Meanwhile the Addams love each other, are willing to give their kids a summer at camp even if the idea seems absurd to them (which it is, cause it wasn't their idea) and are genuinely supportive and accepting to everyone they come across. None of the Addams say anything nasty about anyone else until they're proven to be mean, hypocritical, selfish, or unabased jerks. And then they usually get to roast them on a spit.

Who wouldn't want to be an Addams?
posted by The Whelk at 8:05 PM on July 15, 2014 [41 favorites]

Oh wow, The Whelk, that is a perfect encapsulation of what it was that I couldn't put my finger on as to how the two movies felt distinct and different. Excellent point.
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:57 AM on July 16, 2014

I have always loved Addams Family Values, since I saw it as an adolescent in the 90s. My middle school friends and I would go around quoting the film constantly (Whelk: "Pastels?" is one of the more biting lines in my repertoire even today.)

I rewatched it after 20 years thanks to this thread and apart from being good just on a cinematic, storytelling, and script levels, I found it rather more profound than I remembered. It's that the Addamses are like "regular people" (as exemplified by the kids and parents at Chippewa), but turned inside out. "Regular people" keep their fear, greed, hatred, unspeakable urges bottled up, becoming shallow hypocrites like Amanda Buckman and the camp counselors. Whereas in the Addams Family all the bad things are out front and center, in the way the family members look, live, and speak. So all that is left inside them, like a Pandora's box, are the virtues. Gomez and Morticia's relationship is genuinely loving and passionate, Fester and Gomez are the best of friends, even Wednesday and Pugsley are always together (though she does try to kill him a lot). The family is almost childlike in its genuineness, in direct opposition to the fakery and discontent of the real world.

Until I thought of the family as a moral inversion of the values of the real world, the scene where the family are calmly waiting to be electrocuted by Debbie didn't make sense to me. Why were they being so supportive and compassionate as she recounted her perceived injustices (using persuasion. And slides.)? The Addams don't have a single hateful bone in their bodies, even to the woman who is about to kill them.

Ultimately, it is Wednesday who triumphs over the evil of Chippewa by showing compassion to the left-out kids (the unathletic, overweight, non-white, disabled, etc.), whom the real world is all too happy to discard. I agree that the film is about acceptance, but to me just as much about self-acceptance; the real evil in the film are people who try to hide their undesirable characteristics.
posted by Atrahasis at 7:09 AM on July 16, 2014 [31 favorites]

(I love this movie too but have nothing to add to the wonderful comments above.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:58 AM on July 16, 2014

Oh, except for the Mandatory Nineties Rap during the credits.

We kept the credits going to the end when watched earlier this week...After "Addams Family (Whoomp!)" (Think about this: what if there'd never been an original "Whoomp! (There It Is)" before this version? Crazy, right?) there's even more terrible soundtrack padding.

Speaking of the sound of music, is anyone else thrown a little in the second Harmony Hut scene when they're going to be forced to watch peppy movies, and Joel says "It's Disney!" right before "The Sound of Music" starts up? I mean, obviously they wouldn't have been able to get the rights to any actual Disney songs, but maybe change/cut that line?

And in the first Harmony Hut scene, how do you interpret the moment when Joel freaks out at the seeing the Michael Jackson/"Heal The World" posters? Like, how unsavory do you think that moment is meant to be? I've heard both "To him it's the horrible epitome of tacky sappiness" and "Actual PTSD trigger" interpretations. I do know that Michael Jackson was a fan of director Barry Sonnenfeld to some degree, and appeared in one of his Men In Black movies as himself, which would suggest that it wasn't meant to be too awfully bad...But that is one terrified kid.
posted by doctornecessiter at 10:16 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just remember Wednesday's cracked, over-the-top-crazy attempt at smiling after the Harmony Hut scene. Inspired, brilliant acting.
posted by pjern at 2:05 PM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

"I'll be the victim."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:47 PM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've heard both "To him it's the horrible epitome of tacky sappiness" and "Actual PTSD trigger" interpretations.

I just watched this for the first time, and I interpreted it as actual PTSD. They'd made such a point about the kids all being so privileged and well connected.

Christina Ricci was absolutely fantastic.

And I liked Joan Cusack's wacky makeup and wild orange lipstick in the end as she was coming more and more unhinged. And if I could pull off her particular wardrobe in this movie, I'd wear the heck out of it.
posted by mochapickle at 4:20 PM on July 16, 2014

I hate to nerd-quibble about a movie I very much enjoyed, but I feel compelled to point out that although Wednesday claims that A Turkey Named Brotherhood lacks an understanding of the Aristotelian Unities, as a play about the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, it demonstrates Unity of Place, Unity of Time, and Unity of Action. I was actually kind of psyched when they started talking about Pocahontas, because to introduce Pocahontas qua Pocahontas would eliminate all three, but it never came up again, making me sad.

NB: The play is still puerile and under-dramatized as well as lacking any sense of structure or character. I would still hire Wednesday as my dramaturge for this and countless other reasons.

PPS. The Wikipedia page on the Aristotelian Unities contains probably the only list of movies to include Bicycle Thieves, Clue, and Dredd.
posted by Copronymus at 7:48 PM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

"I'll be the victim."

All your life.

That was sitting up there unanswered for way too long!
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:31 AM on July 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

Ah thank you; I thought that was going to hang there forever.

On further thought: I feel like Christina Ricci, Anjelica Huston, and Raul Julia are so magnificent in this that it's easy to overlook that the rest of the cast is doing such good work too. Christopher Lloyd is a great Fester; Becky and Gary are pitched at just the right level of annoying perkiness; Amanda is perfectly over-achievingly precocious. Carel Struyken doesn't have any lines to work with but nonetheless embodies Lurch.

(Although I always feel like Jimmy Workman as Pugsley doesn't quite meet the mark. They got the appearance exactly right, but because he's mostly acting against Christina Ricci he often comes off in comparison as just a little too wooden.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:09 AM on July 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

This is a good film.
posted by Atreides at 5:23 PM on July 17, 2014

To Paradise. To Passion. To Pain. Tonight!
posted by small_ruminant at 12:03 PM on July 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

I just now noticed that Tony Shaloub seems to be the lead Macho Man singer.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:29 PM on July 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

For some reason I want an intricate back-story on that grotto place they dined in cause these movies seem to suggest there is this whole subculture of 1940s-esque vaguely European rich eccentrics with morbid tastes and decor and wait wait wait

is Hannibal Lecter related to Morticia?

posted by The Whelk at 1:02 PM on July 18, 2014 [8 favorites]

A really fun movie; they got the tone and pacing just right.

This is one of my favorite moments:

Morticia: [confronting Debbie in her house] You have gone too far. You have married Fester, you have destroyed his spirit, you have taken him from us. All that I could forgive. But Debbie...
Debbie Jellinsky: What?
Morticia: ...pastels?
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:59 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is on TV right now, so of course I'm watching it for the 63rd time. It prompted me to look up the IMDB trivia, and I just found this interesting tidbit re: Michael Jackson and it makes me wonder whether the inclusion of the "Heal the World" poster was significant or just an unfortunate oversight (given the circumstances):

"Michael Jackson was signed on to write and perform a song for the film's soundtrack and to promote it with a video. Although he was able to finish the song, contractual difficulties coupled with the child molestation allegations made against Jackson resulted in the song being dropped from the soundtrack, and the video was never filmed. The song, "Is It Scary," was later included on Jackson's 1997 'Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix' album and was also used in his short film Ghosts (1997)."
posted by lovableiago at 8:22 PM on August 24, 2014

It just reveals rich details on the rewatch.

In the scene where Wednesday and Pugsley put Pubert in the guillotine, and noticed that Pubert was brought forward in an honest-to-God tumbrel.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:45 PM on November 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

I just watched both Addams Family movies back to back over the last few days and was once again reminded that Raul Julia's Gomez Addams may be my favorite character in anything, ever. He was clearly having so much fun the whole time, gone way too soon. In my perfect alternate 1990s timeline he lived on and the amazing ensemble cast and production team went on to make several more Addams Family movies, endless Marvel franchise style.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 7:00 AM on October 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

There isn't a post for the first movie and I don't want to make one just for this one comment, but: Dan Hedaya's Tully Alford in the first movie is basically a prototype Paul F Tompkins character and it is impossible to unsee once you notice.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:26 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

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