|Addams Family Values|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Barry Sonnenfeld|
|Produced by||Scott Rudin|
|Written by||Paul Rudnick|
|Based on||The Addams Family|
by Charles Addams
|Music by||Marc Shaiman|
|Edited by||Arthur Schmidt|
Scott Rudin Productions
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$48.9 million|
Addams Family Values is a 1993 American satirical black comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and written by Paul Rudnick, based on the characters created by Charles Addams. It is the sequel to The Addams Family (1991). The film features many cast members from the original, including Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci, Carel Struycken, Jimmy Workman and Christopher Hart. Joan Cusack plays Debbie Jellinsky, a serial killer who marries Uncle Fester (Lloyd) intending to murder him for his inheritance, while teenagers Wednesday (Ricci) and Pugsley (Workman) are sent to summer camp. Included in the soundtrack is "Supernatural Thing," which was a chart success for Ben E. King. Compared to its predecessor, which retained something of the madcap approach of the 1960s sitcom, Addams Family Values is played more for macabre laughs. The film was well received by critics, in contrast to its predecessor's mixed critical reception. However, unlike the first movie, it did average business by earning $48.9 million against a budget of $47 million.
Gomez and Morticia Addams hire a nanny named Debbie Jellinsky to take care of their newborn son Pubert after his older siblings Wednesday and Pugsley's failed attempts to murder him. Unbeknownst to them, Debbie is a serial killer who marries rich bachelors and murders them to collect their inheritances. After Debbie seduces Uncle Fester, Wednesday becomes suspicious of her intentions. To maintain her cover, Debbie tricks Gomez and Morticia into believing that Wednesday and Pugsley want to go to summer camp.
Wednesday and Pugsley are sent to Camp Chippewa, managed by the chipper Gary and Becky Granger, where they're singled out by the counselors and popular (and snobbish) girl Amanda Buckman for their macabre appearance and behavior. Joel, a nerdy bookworm and fellow outcast, becomes attracted to Wednesday. Debbie and Fester become engaged. At their bachelor and bachelorette parties, Debbie is repulsed by the Addams family's relatives. On their honeymoon, she tries to kill Fester by throwing a boombox into the bathtub, but she fails. Frustrated, Debbie forces him to cut ties with his family; when they try to visit Fester and Debbie at their home, they're removed from the premises. The Addams are alarmed to find that Pubert has transformed into a blue-eyed, rosy-cheeked, blond-haired baby. Grandmama diagnoses this as a result of his disrupted family life and Gomez becomes horribly depressed.
At camp, the counselors cast Wednesday as Pocahontas in Gary's politically correct Thanksgiving play. When she refuses to participate she, Pugsley and Joel are all sent to the camp's "Harmony Hut", where they're forced to watch several upbeat, heartwarming Disney and family films. Afterwards, the three feign cheerfulness and Wednesday agrees to take part. During the performance, she reveals her deception and returns to her old self, stages a coup with the help of her brother and Joel along with the rest of their fellow outcast campers, captures Amanda, Gary and Becky and sets the camp on fire. Later, Wednesday and Joel share their first kiss before separating for a time; Joel staying behind to lead their friends to insure the camp's permeant destruction while the Addams siblings need to return home to their family which they do via a hijacked camp van.
Debbie tries to kill Fester by blowing up their mansion, but he survives. She then pulls a gun and reveals to him she was only interested in his money; Thing drives Debbie's car into her and helps Fester escape. Fester apologizes to Gomez upon his return to the Addams' house, and Wednesday and Pugsley return, fully reuniting the family. Debbie takes another car and drives to Fester's house, where she ties the family to electric chairs, explaining -- while the Addamses listen with feigned sympathy and compassion--that she killed her parents and previous husbands for incredibly selfish and materialistic reasons. Upstairs, the returned-to-normal Pubert escapes from his crib and, via a series of improbable events, is propelled into the room where the family is being held. Debbie throws the switch to electrocute them, but Pubert manipulates the wires and reverses the current, electrocuting her instead and incinerating her into a pile of ash and credit cards.
Months later at Pubert's first-birthday party (attended by all the Addamses' relatives and Joel), Fester laments Debbie's loss, but soon becomes instantly smitten with Cousin Itt and Margaret's new nanny, Dementia. In the Addams family graveyard, Wednesday tells Joel that Debbie was a sloppy killer and she would instead scare her husband to death. As Joel lays flowers on Debbie's grave, a hand (presumably Thing) erupts from the earth and grabs him; he screams and Wednesday smiles.
The "family values" in the film's title is a tongue-in-cheek reference by writer Paul Rudnick to an infamous 1992 speech ("Reflections on Urban America") made by then-Vice Presidential candidate Dan Quayle. In the speech, Quayle had blamed the 1992 Los Angeles riots on a breakdown of "family values", which caused much controversy and derision afterwards.
According to Anjelica Huston, during the filming of Addams Family Values, it became increasingly clear that Raul Julia's health was deteriorating. He had trouble eating and was losing weight as a result. He died within a year after the film was released.
Addams Family Values was well received, receiving significantly better reviews than the first film. On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film received an approval rating of 77% based on 52 reviews, with an average rating of 6.54/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "New, well-developed characters add dimension to this batty satire, creating a comedy much more substantial than the original." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 62 out of 100 based on 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+.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 of Variety was slightly less enthusiastic than Maslin: "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, was even less enthuastic than Klady, calling the film "an essentially lazy movie, too often settling for easy gags and special effects that don't come to any really funny point." Both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert disliked the first film. Siskel gave this film a mixed review and accused Sonnenfeld of caring more about how the film looks than how the jokes play. Ebert thought that unusually for a sequel, it was better than the first film and he enjoyed the various subplots and recommended the film.
The film was nominated for an Academy Award in the category Best Art Direction (Ken Adam, Marvin March), but lost to Schindler's List; 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 Tag Team track "Addams Family (Whoomp!)."Addams Family Values was nominated for AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs. In 2016, James Charisma of Playboy ranked the film #15 on a list of 15 Sequels That Are Way Better Than The Originals.
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.
American popular singer Michael Jackson was supposed to feature a song in the film called "Is It Scary". However, he backed out of the project due to the child sexual abuse allegations against Jackson; in reality, it was because of contractual differences with Paramount Pictures. He instead released the song as a single in 1997. The song has since been leaked online. Jackson is referenced in the film via a poster in the Harmony Hut advertising his 1992 single "Heal the World", which horrifies Joel.
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. On October 1, 2019, Paramount Pictures released double feature of Addams Family and Addams Family Values on Blu-ray in the United States. 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.
It's the rare sequel that is better than its original