Halloween Endurance Test(s): the Addams Family (1991)/Addams Family Values (1993)
These films illustrate to their core the magic that is Halloween. In that even unscary films, with all that unseemly goodness, remain enjoyable.
Christopher Lloyd earns the title of “actor” as Uncle Fester. What I mean by this is that up until three-quarters of the way through the Addams Family I never realized that Fester was Christopher Lloyd. His make-up and characterizations makes you believe that he is the character. Most actors can’t do this, or won’t do it out of ego. There’s no way Tom Cruise is going to let you forget that he’s starring in a film. You’re left watching him watch you watching him pretend to he’s someone else. They (Hollywood) get paid big bucks to act out this mindfuck; so who can really blame them?
Sadly, Raul Julia turns in a performance of a lifetime as Gomez. It’s widely rumored around Hollywood that it was Raul’s love for the role that eventually killed him. For after completing the sequel, Julia realized that he would never again find a script this totally awesome. A famous example:
“He’s [Pubert(!), the Addams newborn] got my father’s eyes!”
“Gomez! Take those out of his mouth!”
That sequence is classic. In fact, it’s something I noted prior to finding out that a major network had tapped it to advertise the movie for their recent premiere. For once I guess I’m on the same page as everyone else as far as morbidity goes.
If only all films guaranteed such great dialogue.
Speaking morbidly, no review of the Addams Family’s cinematic oeuvre would be complete without mentioned Raul Julia’s tragic demise. Julia famously became so depressed by the stark finality in Addams Family Values that his heart exploded while filming Street Fighter.
(Of course, Julia’s death was officially labeled a double suicide by the LAPD; taking into account the number it would have done to his career if his heart hadn’t have exploded itself prematurely.)
Speaking of careers ending, the Addams movies mark the last time Christina Ricci was ever interesting. She’s apparently kept making films afterward; proof positive that even (once) brightly shining stars will need to pay the rent someday too. It’s scary that in less than six years Ricci went from being a eminently quotable, morbid starlet to the strange beast she’s become.
Also in Addams Family Values are the young Addamses (Wednesday and Pugsley) get sent to a summer camp. While this plot isn’t as awesome as the “Jerri-goes-to-camp” episode of Strangers With Candy, it still has its moments.
The little Addamses are tortured by the instructors in an attempt to make them “normal.” If you’re me, you’ll notice how similar the dancing in that sequence is to the dancing on display in the Young Life documentary I watched earlier.
Their gyrations are almost exactly the same! Maybe I wasn’t so out there to have been frightened by that video. Or maybe the Addams Family (film) franchise was scripted by (hopefully ex-) Young Lifers. This doesn’t even take into account the considerable possibility that both could be true!
Questionable dances weren’t the only reality the Addams brought to their movie. Remember how I went on and on about how everyone in the Young Life video was pasty and white? The script hits on that too! It’s like it was written by my mind!
Either racism is inherent in all summer camp experiences, or I’m just really “lucky” when picking viewing material. Either way, I’m certainly lucky that I never had to attend summer camp.