Remember a more grisly Addamses with their 2-Movie Collection
The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, and Addams Family 2-Movie Collection are new on Blu-ray October 1 from Paramount.
With a new animated Addams Family reboot film imminent (opening next weekend), the folks at Paramount have taken the opportunity to release Barry Sonnenfeld’s two Addams films from the 90s to Blu-ray, both separately and in a 2-pack. While the first film has been on the format before, this marks the Blu-ray debut of Addams Family Values.
While the new PG-rated film is aimed directly at kids and families, Sonnenfeld’s PG-13 romps were deliciously dark comedies whose macabre sense of humor were, and remain, boldly demented as family fare.
Created in comic form by Charles Addams in the 1930s, the Addams family is a rich and eccentric clan of oddballs — creepy, kooky, mysterious, and spooky. They occupy a forlorn mansion and are best known as the subject of a long-running sitcom that ran through the 60s and 70s, from which their iconic theme song is derived. The core family consists of dapper patriarch Gomez (Raul Julia), gothic beauty Morticia, sullen daughter Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and the most conventionally “normal”, son Pugsley (Jimmy Workman). In the films, the household also includes Gomez’s brother Fester (Christopher Lloyd), Grandmama (Judith Malina), lanky butler Lurch (Carol Struycken), and “Thing”, a disembodied, animated hand.
The fun of these movies has less to do with the plots, both of which center around the exploits of misanthropic Uncle Fester, and more with the morbid gags which are constant and hilarious, particularly the sharp-tongued witticisms.
Even when these jokes fall into a predictable pattern (a horrific or conventionally bad statement is interpreted as a compliment), they maintain a sense of macabre glee. For instance, when the handsome Gomez is referred to as a ladykiller, he pipes up, “Acquitted!”. Both films are absolutely full of these kinds of punchlines, making them a treat to revisit.
Also a delight is the relationship Gomez and his beloved Morticia; his continual wooing and worship of his wife is both endearing and romantic.
Christina Ricci is also a major highlight in her breakout role at the age of ten. The dour and morbid Wednesday Addams remains remains one of the great child performances, and the sequel expands on this.
The Addams Family (1991)
Since a falling out with Fester many years ago, a regretful Gomez longs for the return of his long-lost brother. Seizing on this knowledge, his smarmy legal counsel Tully Alford (the great Dan Hedaya) concocts a plan: he enlists lookalike Gordon Craven (Christopher Lloyd) to pose as the missing Fester, win the family’s trust, and steal their fortune. But as the generally good-natured Gordon enacts their fiendish plot, he becomes greatly attached to his intended victims and even begins to wonder if perhaps he truly is the long lost Fester.
Particularly memorable is a family reunion sequence which brings in many extended family members from Addams lore, including fan favorite Cousin Itt.
The vast mansion itself is practically a character in this film in particular, an assemblage of wild and wonderful sets and rooms which house all manner of mysteries and contraptions.
Addams Family Values (1993)
The reunited Addams are happy to have the real Uncle Fester back, but the tranquility doesn’t last — a new baby arrives to break the peace, and devious evildoers are once again trying to get their hands on the family fortune.
In the most mean-spirited subplot of the films, a jealous Wednesday and Pugsley concoct a number of plans to get rid of their new mustachioed baby brother, Pubert. He is guillotined, thrown from the top of the house, and has an anvil dropped on him, but each murder attempt is humorously(?) foiled — for the Addamses are notoriously hard to kill.
New nanny Debbie Jellinsky (Joan Cusack) is hired to keep an eye on the kids, but she’s far more interested in Fester. A black widow serial killer, her modus operandi is to marry and murder rich bachelors, and inherit their wealth.
The older kids get sent to summer camp, exiting the gloomy aesthetic of their world and placing them in cheery environs under the care of perky counselors played by Peter MacNicol and Christine Baranski in a camp for privileged and snotty youngsters. It’s the biggest diversion of the films but also one of the most rewarding, giving the kids more to do as they terrorize snooty rich brats and are treated to happiness therapy, and Wednesday even finds a summer romance. Altogether, it’s a wilder, shaggier, and more colorful story than the first, but certainly no less fun.
Sadly, Raul Julia died in 1994 so we didn’t get the opportunity to see this particular realization continue. A third film, Addams Family Reunion, followed direct-to-video, but featured a different cast aside from Carol Struycken as Lurch (and the hand of Christopher Hart as Thing, if that counts).
The Addams Family (re-release) and Addams Family Values are new on Blu-ray this week from Paramount Pictures, available both separately and in a 2-Movie Collection edition. My screener copy of the 2-Movie Collection included a slipcover.
After watching these on DVD for so long, it’s great to finally have both films together on Blu-ray (I skipped the prior Addams Family disc, expecting a collected version with Values to eventually surface). While these high definition presentations are nothing revelatory, they are (expectedly) a big upgrade from the DVDs. Both films have quite beautifully crafted set design and makeup effects, and it’s time to show that off again.
Notably, this is a Blu-ray only edition, eschewing the common practices of including digital or DVD copies of the films. Paired with the dearth of special features, this package is pretty bare overall. Two great movies, looking their best, at a low price — but don’t expect much more.
Special Features and Extras — The Addams Family
SD Trailers (1:21 and 1:28)
Special Features and Extras — Addams Family Values
Get it at Amazon:
If you enjoy reading Cinapse, purchasing items through our affiliate links can tip us with a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.