ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES
Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci and newcomer Joan Cusack have an absolute ball. Lloyd, given about 50 pounds of extra bulk, blacked out eyes and a big dumb grin, stumbles through a romance, making lightbulbs glow in his mouth (a Fester trick that someone remembered from the 1960s tv series). Joan Cusack allows her facial expressions to run a wonderfully expressive gamut between wholesome innocence and vamping calculation. Although the greatest delight is Christina Ricci the dazed way that a smile creeps onto her face for the first time after being forced to watch Bambi (1942) and The Sound of Music (1965) is wonderful. She of course gets a romance of her own, which the film takes perverse delight in turning into an anti-romance of sorts, wittily dashing expectations raised at the end. As in the first film, the one-liners fly thick and fast a child in the waiting room airily talks about visits from the stalk, Our parents had sex, is Wednesdays response. You turned Fester against us, manipulated him, Morticia storms regally after bursting into Fester and Debbies house, that I can take but pastels. Hes a real ladykiller, Debbie says of Fester; Acquitted, replies Gomez.
Just as much as the first film, Addams Family Values walks the double sword-edge of trying to have its characters writhing in perverse ecstasy at being tortured yet also trying to place them in peril. There is also the problem of translating the gags into a dramatic structure. However, the middle of the film does so by fulfilling its title pun and making all the kinkiness into a glorious trashing of the great American sacred cow of Family Values. The baby is thought to be ill when it develops blonde curls and cute cheeks Hell become a lawyer, an orthodontist or even a president, wails Gomez. The summer camp scenes throw wonderfully scabrous barbs at group hugs, feelgood sentiment and Kumbaya singalongs. When it comes to the pantomime Indian uprising with Wednesday as Pocahontas leading the camp rejects and turning on the audience Im going to scalp you and burn your homes, the film becomes a joyous celebration of nonconformity. Indeed, one can see that the ultimate message of the film is that the Addams Familys gleeful perversities arent that different at all it just makes them another underdog minority group.
Though Addams Family Values was a success, the death of Raul Julia in 1994 put paid to any further Addams Family films. There was however a subsequent direct-to-video film with Addams Family Reunion (1998) where the characters were recast, although this was disappointingly poor.
Barry Sonnenfelds other genre films as director include Men in Black (1997), Wild Wild West (1999), the nuclear weapon comedy Big Trouble (2002), Men in Black II (2002), Men in Black 3 (2012) and Nine Lives (2016). Sonnenfeld also produced the witty spoof James Bond tv series Secret Agent Man (2000), the live-action superhero spoof The Tick (2001-2), the tv series Pushing Daisies (2007-9) about a man with resurrection powers and the Lemony Snicket tv series A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017 ), and on cinema screens the Gothic childrens film Lemony Snickets A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), the Disney animation spoof Enchanted (2007) and the animated Space Chimps (2008).