Bad Movies We Love: Addams Family Values
Caution: This is not a bad movie. Yes, we're one sentence in, and I've already broken a major Bad Movies We Love rule. Addams Family Values is perfectly cast, hilarious, and the best showcase of Joan Cusack's insanity since she wore clown leper makeup in Working Girl. But Addams Family Values qualifies as a BMWL because it's a freakishly dated '60s sitcom making a go of '90s family fare, an ooky onslaught of puns and one-liners, and a movie so ridiculous that its theme song is the Tag Team opus "Addams Family (Whoomp)." It's a Bad Movie We Love because rational filmmakers would've never let it happen, but somehow this goofy riot prevailed. Thank God.
Addams Family Values is the 1993 sequel to The Addams Family, the '91 cinematic revamp of the classic Charles Addams cartoons and '60s sitcom. Get all that? You shouldn't. Point is, we're dealing with Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, and Joan Cusack playing the hell out of grim caricatures. Maybe this collective dourness has something to do with the fact all of these actors peaked at the same moment in 1985. And that I love them.
You will now regard the ferocious Raul Julia.
Kiss of the Spindly 'Stache is more like it. Ay-yiy-yiy! Julia plays Gomez, the patriarch of the Addams household who's full of exotic come-ons and macabre quips. When he's called a "lady-killer," he replies, "Acquitted." That is the standard of excellence in this excellent standard. The morbid quips come so quickly in Addams Family Values that the original script may have been titled 101 Mortuary Jokez.
I'd like to say Julia was no grimmer than he is here, but of course, that's a lie.
Sorry, it's my job not to resist Street Fighter references. Elsewhere in the Addams household, Anjelica Huston is perfect as Gomez's vamp wife Morticia, who opines, "I'm just like any modern woman trying to have it all. Loving husband, a family. It's just, I wish I had more time to seek out the dark forces and join their hellish crusade." To her amusement, Morticia finds she's about to deliver a baby as the movie begins. The labor puts Morticia in unbearable pain, and she loves every second of it.
However, her two other children Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) aren't so thrilled about a newborn. They do their damnedest to murder the little squirt, an act which Gomez and Morticia can respect, but don't appreciate.
Soon Morticia seeks out a nanny to supervise baby Pubert (awesome), and they audition a few losers -- including a hippie space cadet played by Cynthia Nixon...
...and an enthusiastic lass named Debbie Jellinsky (Joan Cusack).
Debbie is a blonde person who only wears white, which is the universal sign for "evildoing lady of the early '90s." Since Ms. Cusack lends her voice to Movieline's new favorite Best Picture candidate Toy Story 3, I'm prepared to sing her praises for the remainder of this article. For starters, she really works the Drew Barrymore-in-Scream bob here, which probably terrifies and titillates her new boyfriend Fester.
Fester (Christopher Lloyd, flashing mad Doc Brown exasperation here), the Addams' devoted uncle, falls in love with the bubbly caretaker and soon puts a ring on her. This is too bad, since it turns out Ms. Jellinsky is a known gold-digger and murderer. She's planning to gold-dig and murder Fester, see. She's using lame flattery to woo him. "Women must follow you everywhere!" she gasps. "Store detectives," Fester replies. But while they drum up a courtship that J. Howard Marshall and Anna Nicole Smith might've deemed believable, we sidetrack to Wednesday and Pugsley, who Debbie has vindictively sent off to a yuppie summer camp.
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