Addams Family Values (1993)

While the movie does not manage to recapture the magic of the previous film, it’s not that far off either. It gets most of the things right and it is entirely watchable, even enjoyable, but it does feels a bit hollow, like it’s missing something. In my opinion the reason why the movie doesn’t work as well as the first one is simple: the family spends too much time separated. The movie starts of well enough and has some nice moments, but then Pugsley and Wednesday are shipped off to spend most of their remaining screen time on the Summer Camp from Hell (from their POV that is) while Fester is busy his wife to be, and Thing, Grandma and Lurch get very little screen time for most of the movie. So there’s less interaction with the family itself this time around, and the jokes revolve mostly around just “normal” people reacting to the Addams trademark quirkiness, and this makes everything feels a bit lacking. The plot revolving around the black widow scheming to kill Fester also seems a bit dull, and it doesn’t provide much entertainment, even during their double date when the jokes are just Fester being awful at dating. Fortunately the summer camp is not a complete disaster (though Pugsley does get more or less completely sidelined in favor of the more popular Wednesday getting a romance subplot with the awkward and geeky Jewish kid) as you do get some really funny moments Wednesday attempting to smile, and instead looking happy she comes off incredibly creepy and oddly cute.

The movie does offer some interesting casting, now that in retrospect you look back at it. You have people such as Joan Cusack playing the deadly black widow(er) who marries Fester, Harriet Sansom Harris as the mother of one of the Summer Camp kids, Nathan Lane as the sergeant on duty to whom the Addams family try to issue a complaint, or young Tony Shalhoub having a minor role as a sailor in the bar. The Joan Cusack bit was especially intriguing, because Joan is not exactly (IMO) an actress that comes to mind when thinking of someone to cast as a sexy but deadly seductress. It’s a bit like when I realized that Drew Barrymore was the sexy moll for the bad guy in the Mask. It’s just so peculiar to suddenly find an actress attractive in one single (and probably their least memorable) role in their long career, when none of the other much more prolific films have had the same effect.


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