Halloween Countdown: Addams Family Values

Director: Barry Sonnenfield
Writer:     Paul Rudnick
Starring: Anjelica Huston
                Raul Julia
                Christopher Lloyd
                Joan Cusack
                Christina Ricci
                Jimmy Workman
                Carel Struycken
                Carol Kane
                Christine Baranski
Rating:    ****

My last Halloween countdown focused on my favourite horror movies from the past; this year I thought I would go towards the family friendly Halloween. I am going to countdown 5 family Halloween films, from worst to best.

I know this is a sequel, and it would probably be more obvious to choose an original film for this countdown; but for me growing up, I always preferred this film over 1991's The Addams Family. The family coping with a new child and their murderous nanny, the trials and tribulations when Wednesday and Pugsley get shipped off to summer camp, and just the general atmosphere within the whole movie always gripped me more as a child.

Anjelica Huston
The Addams Family are a creepy and kooky Gothic family that are a constant bafflement to their neighbours and people they meet. Keeping themselves fairly isolated from the rest of the world has lead them to live a happy yet sheltered life. When an adorable baby boy is born into the Addams household, Wednesday and Pugsley (Ricci & Workman), are far from thrilled about its arrival, in fact they're close to hating it. They make it their mission to get rid of the new addition; until a spanner is well and truly thrown into the works. 

Morticia and Gomez (Huston & Julia) hire a seemingly loving and caring nanny called Debbie Jellinsky (Cusack) for the baby. What the family are unaware of is, Debbie is a serial killer! She convinces the couple to ship Wednesday and Pugsley off to summer camp, and manages to seduce and marry the dimwitted Uncle Fester (Lloyd), and plans to kill and inherit his money. With the family in danger, they must pull together to stop the evil nanny before it is too late.

Being it the sequel the actors who are returning have now fully embodied and embraced their quirky counterparts. From Morticia's bonkers birth scene too the siblings maniacal revenge on their fellow campers, each and every cast member goes all in on their performances and always captivated me when I was young. I constantly found myself mesmerised and intrigued by this collection of kooks, and it is the acting that made that possible for the audience. Looking back, I think it is probably the first film I saw where I thought the characters were all real, I remember seeing Huston in The Witches years later and being baffled that she was the glamorous and enchanting Morticia Addams.

Joan Cusack
Aside from the Addams Family themselves, the other character that I always remembered, and I still love the actress because of this film, was the evil nanny, Debbie. Joan Cusack nailed the two sides of Debbie with a graceful and warm turn as the nanny and a maniacal and conniving turn as the serial killer. She was the first character I had seen (and remembered) being so two-faced. Never had I seen a person being so vindictive and sly, managing to trick an entire family with her gentle appearance, but being so venomous underneath it all. It is a performance that I always remember and will continue to love.

I haven't seen Addams Family Values in a few years, so I'm reviewing this from my younger selves perspective mixed in with my recollections of seeing it as a late teen. It of course falls at the hurdles as so many sequels often do, with some of the script being a tad cheesy and predictable, and also often being very similar to the first film. However, the performances, direction, costumes, set and a fair amount of the script kept the film entertaining and memorable. It always had me laughing, with me finding a lot of the comedy in the summer camp scenes, and it holds a special place in my heart. Of course it has its faults, but beyond that is a warm and endearing story about a family of misfits, which is perfect for all those dysfunctional families out there that enjoyed it as much as mine. 

Addams Family Values - Trailer