Wednesday, October 6, 2021

31 Days of Scary Movies: “Addams Family Values” (1993)

 If there is a movie that makes me laugh more than 1993’s “Addams Family Values,” I had not yet found it. A sequel to 1991’s “The Addams Family,” which saw the family popularized in comics in the 1930s— and was made even more famous by the television program years later— have their very own movie for the first time. I have seen “Addams Family Values” countless times, and will go on to watch it even more; it was a selection I picked for my 31 Days of Scary Movies, without hesitation. 

 There is so much to love in this film. Paul Rudnick’s script is— with its rapid fire jokes and quips— wickedly witty, and understands deeply what makes the creepy and kooky family so popular; and knows just how knock down hilarious putting them at odds with what they are not can be. The performances are revelations across the board. Christina Ricci, as Wednesday Addams, stands out with a deadpan, comic timing beyond her years. As her mother Morticia Addams, Angelica Houston mirrors Ricci in the best ways. One wonders how much they learned from playing off each other. The rest of the cast is brilliant: Raul Julia as Gomez, Christopher Lloyd as Fester, Carol Kane as Grandma. And, of course, Joan Cusack is worthy of all the Oscars she never received in the world for playing Debbie, the black windowing murdering rich men for their money who is after Fester. 

 Watching this yet again, I was stuck by how perfect the set design is. The atmosphere— the Addams house, grounds, and cemetery— is so lovingly and creepily designed it reminds you of every creepy house and cemetery you have seen before, and feels all its own and right at home. I also thought quite a bit about how I doubt a script this unflinching and bold and dark in its satire could be made today as a family film. 

What a perfect fit for October, and every month of the year. 

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