Addams Family Values (1993) / Comedy-Fantasy

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexual innuendo and some violence
Running Time: 94 min.

Cast: Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci, Joan Cusack, Jimmy Workman, David Krumholtz, Carol Kane, Kaitlyn Hooper, Kristen Hooper, Peter MacNicol, Christine Baranski, Carel Struycken, Mercedes McNab, Barry Sonnenfeld, Nathan Lane, Cynthia Nixon (cameo), David Hyde Pierce (cameo), Peter Graves (cameo), Tony Shalhoub (cameo)
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Screenplay: Paul Rudnick
Review published February 5, 2006

It might be a step down from the pleasure that was The Addams Family, but this sequel doesn't miss too far off the mark.  Although darker in nature, with a more adult vibe (this one kicks the rating up to PG-13), once the plot gets rolling, the momentum returns.  While never great, there are some fun moments to be had, especially due to the performances of the lively main players.

In this one, Uncle Fester (Lloyd, Back to the Future Part III) ends up falling for Debbie (Cusack, Working Girl), the Addams' new nanny taking care of their new addition, Pubert. Unbeknownst to him, Debbie is really a gold digging murderess, out to marry Fester and snatch his cash, after she's finally done him in. While the adults are clueless, the kids are hip to her schemes, but they can't do much about it, since they've been shipped off to summer camp, where the happy-go-lucky nature of the place doesn't jibe well with their dark personalities.

It's hard to go wrong with all of the main players back, and even without a good story, the strength of the original film's visuals continues here.  The main plot is sporadically entertaining, becoming interesting mostly when Christina Ricci (The Opposite of Sex, Pecker) or Christopher Lloyd take center stage.  The new Addams is meant to give this sequel a new element of cuteness, but this is probably the least effective subplot of the film.  Also on the down side is that, while the Addams Family has always been dark in its humor, there is an element of vicious mean-spiritedness that undercuts some of the scenes, particularly when the siblings are trying to kill one another.  Obviously, they won't be successful, given the commercial family film nature of it, but these scenes are never as funny as first-time screenwriter Paul Rudnick (In & Out, Marci X) must have thought they would be.

Even with some of the substantial downsides, Addams Family Values maintains an interest level throughout.  The quality of the humor wildly varies, but there is just enough going for it to justify the time spent.  Needless to say, if you didn't care for the original, you aren't likely to think this an improvement in any capacity, leaving this recommended strictly for those viewers that just can't get enough Addams Family antics.

-- Followed by a direct-to-video sequel, Addams Family Reunion.

Qwipster's rating:

2006 Vince Leo