Addams Family Values is a 1993 American film, which is the sequel to the 1991 American dark comedy film The Addams Family. It was written by Paul Rudnick and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and features many cast members from the original, including Raúl Juliá, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, Carel Struycken, Jimmy Workman, Christina Ricci, Joan Cusack, David Krumholtz, andChristopher Hart. Compared to its predecessor, which retained something of the madcap approach of the 1960s sitcom, Values is played more for macabre laughs.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Gomez (Raúl Juliá) and Morticia Addams (Anjelica Huston) welcome the birth of their third child, Pubert (Kaitlyn and Kristen Hooper). Older siblings Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) are antagonistic toward their new baby brother and attempt to kill him several times, but Pubert fortuitously survives each attempt. Worried by this behavior, Gomez and Morticia seek out a nanny to help look after the children. After Wednesday and Pugsley scare off the first few applicants, Debbie Jellinsky (Joan Cusack) is hired. Gomez's brother Fester (Christopher Lloyd) is immediately infatuated with her. Unbeknownst to the family, Debbie is a serial killer known as "The Black Widow" who seeks out wealthy bachelors, marries them and then murders them on their wedding night, making the deaths appear accidental so that she inherits their fortunes.
Wednesday and Pugsley become suspicious of Debbie's intentions toward Fester, believing that she is after his vast riches. Debbie tricks Gomez and Morticia into sending the children away to a summer camp, where they quickly make enemies of the perky and overly zealous camp owners Gary (Peter MacNicol) and Becky Granger (Christine Baranski) and the pretentious Amanda Buckman (Mercedes McNab). Joel Glicker (David Krumholtz), another social outcast, develops a crush on Wednesday, who vaguely reciprocates due to his odd behaviors and frailties.
Meanwhile, Debbie advances her plot to seduce Fester: she professes to love him, but claims to be a virgin and says they cannotconsummate their relationship until marriage, prompting Fester to propose. Wednesday and Pugsley are distraught at the news and try to escape from camp, while Gary and Becky repeatedly attempt to get them to be peppy. They are allowed to attend the wedding, and Wednesday brings Joel along. At the wedding, the family is surprised by Cousin Itt and his wife Margret, who have recently had their first child, a baby girl named What.
On their honeymoon, Debbie attempts to electrocute Fester by dropping a radio into the bathtub with him, but he is unaffected. Frustrated by his resilience, Debbie uses her sexual hold over Fester to manipulate him into severing all ties with his family. The two move into a lavish mansion and when Gomez, Morticia, Grandmama (Carol Kane) and butler Lurch (Carel Struycken) attempt to visit, Debbie forbids them from seeing Fester. Pubert soon goes through dramatic changes, which Grandmama determines ispossession, a condition brought on by anxiety over Fester's separation from the family and from the separation from his siblings.
Back at camp, Wednesday refuses to participate in Gary's musical production of the first Thanksgiving as Pocahontas. She, Pugsley, and Joel are locked in the "Harmony Hut" and forced to watch upbeat family films (such as Bambi, Lassie Come Home,The Little Mermaid, and various musicals) to curb their hostile behavior. On emerging from the hut, Wednesday feigns perkiness and agrees to play the role of Pocahontas in front of the waiting crowd. However, during the play, she leads the other social outcasts — who have all been cast as Indigenous Americans (except for Pugsley who was cast as a turkey) — in a revolt, capturing Gary, Becky, and Amanda and leaving the camp in chaos. Before she leaves, Wednesday and Joel kiss.
Debbie tries once again to kill Fester, this time by blowing up their mansion with a bomb. When he again survives, she is horrified, pulls a gun on him and admits that she never loved him and only got together with him for his money. She is about to shoot at him, when Thing — the Addams' animated, disembodied hand — drives a car into Debbie from behind and helps him to escape. Fester then gets into the car and Thing drives them away. Fester, Wednesday and Pugsley arrive at the Addams mansion, but the family's reunion is interrupted by an angry Debbie who straps them — with the exception of Pubert — into electric chairs and forces them to watch a slide show detailing how she had murdered her parents and previous husbands for not fulfilling her materialistic demands. Pubert, having returned to normal, is propelled into the room via a chain reaction of events and manipulates the wires just as Debbie throws the switch, causing her to be incinerated into dust while the Addams family survives.
At Pubert's first birthday party, Uncle Fester becomes enamored with Cousin Itt's daughter's new nanny Dementia. Wednesday and Joel visit Debbie's grave in the family cemetery; Wednesday says that if she wanted to kill her husband, she would simply scare him to death. As Joel lays flowers on the grave, a hand (most likely Thing) shoots up from the ground and grabs and terrifies him while Wednesday gives a satisfied smirk.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Raúl Juliá as Gomez Addams
- Anjelica Huston as Morticia Addams
- Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester Addams
- Joan Cusack as Debbie Jellinsky, a professional black widow
- Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams
- Christopher Hart's Hand as Thing
- Carel Struycken as Lurch
- Jimmy Workman as Pugsley Addams
- John Franklin as Cousin Itt
- Dana Ivey as Margaret Alford Addams (Mrs. Itt)
- Carol Kane as Grandmama Addams (replacing Judith Malina)
- David Krumholtz as Joel Glicker, Wednesday's love interest
- Kaitlyn and Kristen Hooper as Pubert Addams
- Peter MacNicol as Gary Granger; he and his wife Becky are in charge of Camp Chippewa
- Christine Baranski as Becky Martin-Granger
- Mercedes McNab as Amanda Buckman (she was the Girl Scout in the first film)
- Cameo roles
- Director Barry Sonnenfeld as Mr. Glicker
- Cynthia Nixon as Heather, one of the potential nannies
- Nathan Lane as a police desk sergeant (Lane would eventually go on to play Gomez in The Addams Family musical.)
- David Hyde Pierce as the delivery room doctor
- Sam McMurray as Don Buckman, Amanda's father
- Harriet Sansom Harris as Ellen Buckman, Amanda's mother
- Ian Abercrombie as a driver
- Tony Shalhoub as Jorge, a patron at the bar Debbie goes to
- Charles Busch as Countess Aphasia du Berry, an Addams family relative
- Peter Graves as the host of America's Most Disgusting Unsolved Crimes
- Dianna Deuce as a puppet nanny
Critical reception[edit | edit source]
The film was better received compared with the mixed reaction of the original. Critics complimented the film with largely positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 78% based on 46 reviews. The site's consensus reads, "New, well-developed characters add dimension to this batty satire, creating a comedy much more substantial than the original."
Janet Maslin of The New York Times wondered if "the making of this sequel was sheer drudgery for all concerned", then answered herself by writing, "There's simply too much glee on the screen, thanks to a cast and visual conception that were perfect in the first place, and a screenplay by Paul Rudnick that specializes in delightfully arch, subversive humor." Leonard Klady was slightly less enthusiastic in his Variety review, noting, "It remains perilously slim in the story department, but glides over the thin ice with technical razzle-dazzle and an exceptionally winning cast."
Richard Schickel, writing for Time magazine, called it "an essentially lazy movie, too often settling for easy gags and special effects that don't come to any really funny point."
The film was nominated for an Academy Award in the category Best Art Direction (Ken Adam, Marvin March), and Huston was nominated for the 1993 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for her performance as Morticia, a reprise of her Golden Globe-nominated performance in the 1991 original. The film won also a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song for the song Addams Family (Whoomp!).
Addams Family Values was nominated for AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs.
Box office[edit | edit source]
Addams Family Values opened at #1 at its initial weekend with a reported total of $14,117,545. In its second week, the film dropped to #2 behind Mrs. Doubtfire, and in its third week to #3 behind Mrs. Doubtfire and A Perfect World.
Its final domestic box office take was $48,919,043, a significant decline from the previous film's domestic total of $113,502,426.
Home media[edit | edit source]
The film was released on DVD in 2000 with two theatrical trailers as special features. It was re-released in 2006 with the first film on a single disc, with no new features.
In Australia, the film was released on VHS by Paramount Home Entertainment (Australasia) in 1994. In 2002 the film was released on DVD with theatrical trailers in the extra features.