‘Addams Family Values’ is a great live action movie

PHOTO PROVIDED The poster for “Addams Family Values” is pictured above.

Trying to find a Thanksgiving Day related movie is a tough one. You’ve got loads of Christmas movies (I’m looking at you in particular Hallmark), and even Halloween, Valentine’s Day and Fourth of July are easier. But Thanksgiving isn’t exactly the best premise for a movie. Unless someone is planning to tell the whole truth about the “first Thanksgiving.”

Oddly enough I’ve stumbled upon a movie that actually does address, to an extent, the truths of what happened centuries ago. And that movie is … “Addams Family Values.”

Okay, I know that the movie itself isn’t centered around Thankgiving, but there is a pageant about the first Thanksgiving and that’s enough for me. Like I said, movies about today’s holiday in particular are difficult to come by.

“Addams Family Values” is actually the sequel to its live-action predecessor “The Addams Family” which was released in 1991. “Addams Family Values” followed up two years later in 1993 and doesn’t rely too much on the original movie’s plot. Which makes this movie all that much easier to talk about.

The second movie centers around our favorite cooky and spooky family the Addams. This strange but endearing family is actually about to grow in size, as Morticia (Anjelica Huston) is being rushed into a hospital with her husband Gomez (Raul Julia) to welcome their third child.

Following the birth of young Pubert, his older siblings Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) attempt to kill their little brother. This isn’t entirely strange I might add. My older brother wanted to put me in the garbage when my parents brought me home from the hospital. Clearly they didn’t listen and I think the entire family is all the better for it (don’t ask him for his opinion though).

My own loving relationship with my siblings aside, Gomez’s brother Fester (Christopher Lloyd) reminds Gomez and Morticia he and his brother were just as bad. However, after a few more broken windows, the couple decide to hire a nanny to help care for Pubert and keep his siblings from throwing him out a window (ya know, the usual sibling rivalry stuff).

In comes Debbie Jellinsky (Joan Cusack), a much too lively woman with plans of her own… to seduce Fester and take all his money. When the always astute Wednesday becomes suspicious, Debbie convinces her parents to send the young girl and her brother to a summer camp. The place is cheery, sunny and a living hell for the far more gothic pair of siblings.

While brother and sister are dealing with their own form of torture, Debbie and Fester get engaged. At the engagement party, Debbie becomes repulsed by the rest of the Addams family (I don’t know why, they all seem like fun at parties).

After a failed attempted at killing Fester on their honeymoon, Debbie isolates Fester from his family. Alarmed by this sudden change in Fester, the rest of the Addams try to talk to him but are blocked by Debbie. In another shocking turn of events, little Pubert goes from a dark haired, sinsiter little boy to a blonde haired and blue eyed infant with rosy cheeks. Grandmama (Carol Kane) believes Pubert’s sudden change is a result of a disruption in the Addams family, namely Fester’s absence.

Back at camp, Wednesday, Pugsley and their new friend Joel Glicker (David Krumholtz) are forced to participate in a play put on by camp counselors Gary (Peter MacNicol) and Becky (Christine Baranski) about the first Thanksgiving.

Wednesday and the boys, along with many of the other outcasts, are cast as Native Americans — Wednesday in particular as Pocahantas herself. Meanwhile, the popular kids such as mean girl Amanda (Mercedes McNab) are cast as the Pilgrims.

Gary’s play, to put it simply, is absolutely misguided and racist. A fact that young Wednesday can’t ignore. During the play, Wednesday gives a speech which denounces the performances lackluster and misinformed play before her fellow “Indians” wreck the place and create chaos. Good for her, we love a character that will try her best to debunk blatantly incorrect information.

While the chaos ensues, Pugsley steals a camp van and he and Wednesday rush home.

Meanwhile, Debbie is still attempting to end her marriage with a bang. After an attempt at blowing up Fester goes wrong, she intends to shoot him. Lucky for Fester (who probably would have survived a shot in the head, let’s be honest here) Addam’s employee Thing hits Debbie with her vehicle and the two escape back to the Addams home where the whole family is reunited.

Debbie isn’t too far behind however, and she intends to destroy the family.

I’ve delved enough into the plot so let’s just leave it there. If you haven’t seen the movie, I suggest you get to it to learn what happens next.

This movie is one of those rare occurrences where a sequel wasn’t a bad thing. I absolutely loved the original (and most variations of this crazy family for that matter), and I felt they didn’t ruin them with a second film. What helps, I think, is that both movies can stand alone. You don’t need to watch the first to understand the second. The Addams are just familiar enough to everyone that there’s no need to go into background or flesh out the characters.

And what characters they are, the actors did a phenomenal job bringing each of them to life. Their over the top, sometimes outright strange, personalities all meld together into quite the chaotic — and sometimes lethal — family of misfits.

The Addams Family shows that you don’t have to be normal to be a good person. In fact, as the summer camp shows, the normal folks can truly be the real villains of the story.

If you haven’t watched “Addams Family Values” I highly suggest you do so. It’s a dark and twisted, campy family film filled with crazy hijinx and even a little attempted murder (I’m looking at Debbie on that one).

“Addams Family Values” is rated PG-13 and can be watched on Netflix.

So maybe calling it a Thanksgiving movie is a reach, but it’s still enjoyable all year round!

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Laura Jameson is a staff reporter for The Express.


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