Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Strong Argument Against Sequels: Addams Family Values.

The Good: Effects are decent
The Bad: Poor character development, Mediocre acting, Largely not funny, Banal plot
The Basics: More of the same, Addams Family Values is a lackluster sequel that is utterly unimpressive.

I understand that the early 1990s cinematic renditions of The Addams Family were based on a television series. However, upon watching Addams Family Values, I found myself wondering how the show made it past three episodes. Sadly, by the second film, the Addams Family has pretty much run out of spark and intrigue. In fact, the plot wanders around being a variation on the earlier film The Addams Family (reviewed here!). In Addams Family Values, instead of belaboring whether or not Uncle Fester is the real Uncle Fester, this time Fester is taken from the family by a serial killer who marries him to try to get his fortune.

While the plot might seem like a big difference from the first film, the structure is disturbingly similar. For example, Gomez ends up in jail right around the same time in the film as the Addams Family was locked out of their mansion in the first film. The original aspect in Addams Family Values, a b-plot that has Wednesday and Pugsley, falls flat and is essentially a single non-sequitur joke that is dragged out and repeated for at least half an hour of the ninety-four minute film.

Following the abrupt birth of Pubert Addams to Gomez and Morticia Addams, their children Wednesday and Puglsey believe that either Pubert or Pusgley must die (after all, they only need one boy child). Corrected by Gomez, Wednesday and Pugsley just begin repeated attempts to kill the baby with a guillotine, dropping from excessive heights, etc. To help the parents deal with the children, Morticia and Gomez hire Debbie Jellinsky.

Debbie keeps Pubert alive and almost immediately sets her sights on Uncle Fester. Debbie gets rid of Wednesday and Puglsley by telling their parents that they have a secret desire to go to summer camp. Confined to Camp Chippewa, Wednesday develops her first crush, with an asthmatic boy who hates the outdoors as much as she does. Left to her own devices, Debbie begins to woo Fester and she marries him with the intent of killing him and stealing his fortune. When Gomez tries to intervene, he is jailed and the family must rescue him and Fester.

The moment I realized just how bad Addams Family Values was was when I found myself smiling in excitement from Tony Shaloub appearing on screen. Shaloub has a cameo that is essentially a blink-and-you-miss-it role that is of utterly no consequence to the film. Shaloub is trotted out on the heels of David Hyde Pierce, Nathan Lane and (the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine geek in me was excited by) Camille Saviola. When the guest actors in minor roles thrill the viewer more than anything going on in the actual film, the movie is in trouble.

Like its predecessor, Addams Family Values trades on humor that comes from a macabre family interacting with the real, normal world and the jokes that result from (mostly) young people enjoying murder, gore, and pain. The first big problem is that that series of jokes was done to death in The Addams Family and Addams Family Values beats the same joke to an even bloodier pulp. The joke is dead long before this film begins, yet it is reiterated ad nauseum.

Addams Family Values is plagued as well by terrible direction and poor acting. On the acting front, Joan Cusack is entirely hammy as Debbie and not in the moments when it is obvious that is the intent. Similarly, Christina Ricci is unfortunately too frequently out of character as Wednesday. The humorless, morose Wednesday appears too often in Addams Family Values with a smile at the edges of her lips and radiating from her eyes. Sadly, while this makes sense after her character’s first crush, it does not makes sense early in the film.

In a similar fashion, the direction in Addams Family Values is unsettlingly choppy. While the make-up effects are wonderful, the basic editing on the film is . . . for lack of a better term, craptastic. The choppy editing is especially noticeable during the children’s play and the mayhem that follows at the summer camp.

Giving The Whole Ten Yards (reviewed here!) a run for its money as worst sequel of all time, Addams Family Values adds nothing of significance to the franchise and is, ultimately, a disappointment.

For other works with Anjelica Huston, be sure to visit my reviews of:
The Big Year
The Darjeeling Limited
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
The Royal Tenenbaums
The Mists Of Avalon
Ever After: A Cinderella Story
A Handful Of Dust
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest


For other movie reviews, please check out my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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