Weird is Relative
The matriarch of this kooky and creepy clan is Gomez Addams, played by Raul Julia. This is the only movie I know him from, but I do remember seeing promos for Street Fighter: The Movie and being intrigued that he played Bison. He died not long after filming that one, so we never got to see the third Addams sequel we all wished for.
Angelica Houston plays Morticia Addams, which really freaked me out in college when I realized she’s in like four Wes Anderson films.
Then there’s dear old Christopher Lloyd, who plays Fester Addams. I remember being very confused about this as a kid, because I KNEW Christopher Lloyd was Doc from Back To The Future, but I could never quite put these two roles together because of the liberal application of makeup. I guess Lloyd must be a bit of a chameleon, because he also surprised me recently when I saw One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for the first time.
Last but certainly not least is Christina Ricci, who plays that little firecracker Wednesday Addams. I developed a giant crush on Ricci when I saw Now And Then, a movie that gave me a secret thrill, like getting a glimpse of the pink tile in the girls’ bathroom before the door swung shut. It was the same feeling I got reading my friends’ copies of YM, which I once stole and hid under my mattress. My mom must’ve found them, because one day I went to read them and they weren’t there.
ANYWAY, like most boys my age, I later watched Black Snake Moan for Christina Ricci and Christina Ricci only. She’s great.
The Addams live in a creepy haunted mansion in the middle of nowhere. They’ve got a fuckload of money for an unspecified reason, a point made clear immediately when Gomez pays their skeezy lawyer Tully for services rendered in gold doubloons.
Unlike his clients, Tully’s got some financial issues, and some weird female kingpin (queenpin?) brings her crackhead son Gordon to rough Tully up and collect.
Hold on a sec, Tully tells the queenpin, your ugly-ass son looks a hell of a lot like Gomez’s long-lost brother Fester, who’s been missing for 25 years. If we cut off that disgusting ginger mop of his, he’d be a dead ringer, and we would have a man on the inside to steal the Addams family’s fortune.
And so, as the Addams family conducts a seance to bring Fester back, there’s a knock at the door and oh dear lord it’s fake Fester.
Gomez is overjoyed to have his brother again and apologizes for fighting over a set of Siamese twin sisters back in the day, the issue that caused their estrangement in the first place. He starts getting suspicious, though, because Fester doesn’t seem to know shit about the family.
When Fester forgets how to remove his favorite Chinese finger trap, Gomez knows Fester is a fraud. Enter the queenpin, who pretends to be a psychologist. She tells Gomez that Fester caught amnesia when he was in the Bermuda Triangle, which is why he doesn’t remember stuff.
It takes a long time to wind the plot up after that, honestly. You know Gordon/Fester is going to catch feelings for the Addams because they treat him so dearly, and his queenpin mom basically spends the whole movie verbally abusing him. You know he’s eventually going to get caught as a fraud — he does — and you know he’s eventually going to come back around and redeem himself — he does.
After a weird legal battle that involves a wholly corrupt judge, the Addams lose their estate to Gordon/Fester and then get it back again when Morticia gets captured (?) and the hand without the body pulls a Lassie and gets everybody to rescue her. Gordon/Fester realizes his mom is a total see-you-next-Tuesday and uses an enchanted book to fuck up her program.
The queenpin and Tully get their comeuppance by being buried alive — holy shit that’s dark, but okay — and surprise! The reason Gordon looked so much like Fester in the first place is because he actually IS Fester, and that whole Bermuda Triangle amnesia thing is true. A little too convenient and tidy for me, but come on, it’s based on a 1960’s TV show. What did you expect?
FIRST MEMORIES OF MOVIE:
Ok, we FOR SURE had a VHS bootleg of this my dad taped from the video store copy, because my strongest memory is that for the duration of the film, the brightness of the screen faded in and out every 10 seconds because of some early anti-piracy technology. This probably explains why I never totally understood this movie until I watched it just now; it’s hard to follow a plot when you’re 7 years old under normal circumstances, let alone when the scene plunges into darkness six times a minute.
My brother and I watched this movie often when we were young despite its PG-13 rating, a tag that probably explains all the jokes that went over my head (see below).
This was also the first time I registered the concept of a product tie-in, and there’s a bunch. Fed Ex, Sally Jessy Raphael, and Tombstone Pizza all make desperate pleas for your consumer dollars, as does the genie-pantsed legend himself, MC Hammer. Attempting to follow up on his smash hit “U Can’t Touch This,” Hammer did some kind of deal with Paramount and wrote “Addams Groove” as the title song of the flick. The music video plays as Cousin It rolls up to the party scene, and I briefly fucked with MC Hammer as a result.
GAPING PLOT HOLES:
Like most movies based on lame TV shows from the 60s — have you ever seen Dennis The Menace? — there is lots of stuff that doesn’t necessarily qualify as a plot hole, but is just so far-fetched it’s difficult to swallow.
Let me get this straight: Gomez is suspicious that Fester is a fraud, but queenpin strolls into the Addams’ parlor unannounced, puts on some shitty Austrian accent, claims she’s a therapist with no supporting evidence, and Gomez is like okay you’re right? Stop it.
Though it’s well established throughout the film Fester doesn’t know a damn thing about the Addams’, 80 minutes into the film he has a party scene with Gomez where they perform this stupid-intricate dance called the Mamushka. It’s not just some electric slide thing you pick up in 4th grade P.E., this thing has got knife throwing and clapping and shit. Am I supposed to believe Fester just coincidentally knows when to swallow that sword? No thanks. And don’t tell me it’s because his memory is starting to come back because he is the real Fester but we don’t know that yet. It’s clearly stated in the movie’s coda that the lightning strike is the thing that restored Fester’s memory.
JOKES THAT USED TO BE OVER MY HEAD:
I understand now why this movie is PG-13. It’s implied Morticia and Gomez are into kinky shit the whole time. I never caught it. Morticia’s job is to basically turn everything Gomez says into something dirty, like that one friend who won’t stop saying “That’s What She Said” after everything even though it’s 2020 and The Office has been off the air for seven years. But Huston got a Golden Globe nomination for her Morticia role, so what the fuck do I know?
Morticia: Oh Gomez. Last night you were like some desperate howling being. Do it again.
Morticia: Don’t torture yourself, darling. That’s my job.
Gomez: You’re going to what, torture her? Leather straps, red hot pokers?
Morticia: Later, darling.
LINES THAT WOULDN’T FLY IN 2020:
I expected this movie to be way raunchier than it actually was. In a lot of ways, it was vanilla, presumably a nod to its comic roots and the 60s sitcom.
There is a scene where Wednesday and Pugsley re-create the final duel in Hamlet, and as they slice off each other’s limbs, their fake blood showers the audience. Could totally fly in 2020, but just struck me as a lot more in-your-face dark.
DOES IT HOLD UP?
I mean, it’s fine. I’m not really sure who they made this movie for. Are teenagers the audience? Or were Baby Boomers supposed to bite on the nostalgia and take the whole family? Unclear. This movie would DEFINITELY not be made in 2020. It’d either get re-made as some 3-D animated piece of shit or get bumped up to an R rating and get more gratuitous than freaky and kooky.
Oh, they DID re-make it as a 3-D animated piece of shit? In 2019? It has a 44% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes? Huh.