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Matt's Addams Family Values

Updated on November 14, 2009

Always a joy to revisit old classics, I tried to keep my objectivity this time around and apply everything I know now about movies.  I’m happy to say that, for the most part, Addams Family Values does hold up to scrutiny.  As usually is the case with any film series, the first one is the best one, but what I find with both the original and Values is, now that I’m older, I’m picking up a lot of jokes and one-liners that I either missed or went over my head when I was a kid.  This raises my opinion of the movie even higher, because despite the fact that it is definitely aimed at a relatively young audience, it does make for very entertaining viewing for adults as well.  Of course, that’s true of most family films – think of classics like Ghost Busters, or The Princess Bride.

Observations

-          The script for this film is unbelievable.  They really don’t do comedy like this anymore.  Although there are a couple of cheap gags in Addams Family Values, the best moments in the film are done with witty dialogue or one of the Addams’ doing something outrageous. 

-          As I just said, there are a couple of cheap gags in the film that I thought were rather low.  There was a pie in the face moment at the end of the film, which I thought was beneath them, and there was a crude moment involving Thing when the Addams’ were at the hospital at the beginning of the film.  Those are the only two examples I can think of.

-          The plotline with Debbie, the gold-digging nanny, may be a bit awkward for younger viewers.  Remember this film is PG-13, and the humor is a bit on the risqué side.  Did I ever mind that?  Not really.  But this film does target a slightly older audience than the first one.  Is that a flaw?  Not necessarily.

-          The plotline with the new baby, Pubert, wasn’t bad.  Definitely some great moments involving the newest member of the family (woe to the republic!).  Suspension of disbelief is a huge part of this series – the Addams’ are seen performing tricks and stunts that defy the laws of physics.  The end sequence, however, involving Pubert is a little far-fetched even by Addams Family standards.

Performances

-          Christina Ricci – This is the premiere performance!  Simply put, she steals this film.  Ricci is a couple years older and a bit more experienced, and she shines as Wednesday Addams, stealing virtually every scene she is in.

-          Raul Julia – My personal favorite member of the cast, I’ve always maintained that Julia’s performance as Gomez Addams is nothing less than inspired.  He puts forth a performance that hits many of the same notes in this as he does in the original.  Gomez’s role was much more central in the first movie, so I’d argue he was a bit better in that one.  I do maintain, however, that Julia was and is a joy to see in just about every movie that he made during his career.

Music, Cinematography, and Special Effects

-          The Music in this film is just as outstanding as it was in the first one.  Great timing with all the variations on the Addams Family theme throughout the film.  It augmented the humor, and it stands well on its own as an album.  Particularly memorable is the amazing piece played during the essential dancing scene.

-          You could watch this film with the sound off and not be bored – though you’d miss out on a lot of great dialogue – the look of this film is absolutely fantastic.  Tim Burton couldn’t have made this a more interesting film to look at if he had been at the helm.  I’d expect good things visually from a director like Barry Sonnenfield, who was a cinematographer before he turned director.  He would go on to do great work on Men in Black.

-          The special effects were not particularly noteworthy but everything was done convincingly enough.  The beauty of the subject matter is that the effects didn’t need to be particularly realistic, if an effect in this movie is bad it adds to the charm.  This is one of the few films out there that you could say that.

The Bottom Line

If, god willing, you have seen and enjoyed the first Addams Family, you are sure to enjoy the sequel.  It has many of the elements that made the first one work, and when you add the superb performance by Christina Ricci, you have a must-see on your hands.  7/10.

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