*snap snap*

Early in Addams Family Values, Morticia and Gomez bring home a new baby. The older kids then spend the entire first act trying to kill it.

Successfully, the script turns this all on its head – the weirdest and creepiest people in this story reside at summer camp, not at home. Two freakishly obedient camp counselors plus a load of snooty rich kids become absolute villains when forced into contact with Wednesday Addams (Chrisina Ricci). “Why are you dressed like that?” asks the obnoxious prim, proper, spoiled rich girl when first meeting Wednesday. Not “Hi” or “How are you”, rather instant judgment. When Wednesday doesn’t smile, counselors try to indoctrinate her through Disney, locked alone in a cabin with only Ariel as company.

That doesn’t work.

Addams Family Values refuses change. That’s both in terms of theme and this story that again centers on Fester (Christopher Lloyd) being used and taken for his money. Much as the kids refuse to change even when in summer’s sunlight, the opposite is true for Fester who melts for his manipulative, murderous wife (Joan Cusack). By the end, Fester must apologize for not being an oddball and trying to conform. Addams Family Values continued celebrating the unique and odd, pushing a message to kids to be themselves, and for families to never hide their uniqueness.

Addams Family Values’ methods make sure that even the attempted baby killers look less insane than the pampered rich

Of the two live action films – ignoring the original TV series and animated spin-offs – this is the purest Addams Family. While certainly aggressive in its posture, Addams Family Values’ methods make sure that even the attempted baby killers look less insane than the pampered rich. Wednesday’s a misanthrope, but one who responds with truth that a “normal” society does not; she’s never dishonest, just clever and witty in the darkest of ways.

There’s little for Gomez (Raul Julia) or Morticia (Anjelica Huston) to do other than fawn for one another in this sequel. A dance routine goes on too long, as if an apology for the lack of purpose elsewhere. Rather, they observe the happenings, hoping their family can come back from the brink when faced with the forces of change.

For Fester, that might kill him as his romantic desperation reaches a crescendo. When kids at camp trade serial killer trading cards, one pulls out the set’s holy grail – the (then) recently convicted Amy Fisher, drawing a morbidly comical distinction to America’s fascination with killers, much as Fester finds himself enamored with an obvious sociopath. She’s everything this family loves, except for how she legitimately wants to kill rather than just… say, marginally maim for the laughs. It’s cartoonish enough to work and maintain the integrity of what makes Addams Family resonate.

Video

This one took a while to reach Blu-ray and it’s a shame that wait delivered this. Clear signs of middling resolution show especially in medium shots, with either aliasing or interlacing artifacts; it’s difficult to pinpoint which as the effect looks similar to both. Flabby detail doesn’t help either, mediocre overall.

Grain structure carries a notable digital look, more like noise than film stock. That’s distracting. Paramount’s encoding keeps things together and transparent, avoiding any additional complications.

Of bigger concern is color grading. Clearly modern, the orange/blue look does not come from the early ‘90s given the digital glaze of it all. This is distressingly prominent with flesh tones that carry blue highlights, even outdoors at camp. Primaries saturate, even overdone as Morticia’s lipstick bleeds in many shots.

There is a baseline attractiveness to this transfer is not much else. Contrast and depth (some crushing during the nighttime wedding aside) remain high, putting up an artificial shield toward any criticism. A little deeper though and Addams Family Values clearly ended up on Blu-ray with almost no benefit from this format due to a lackluster master.

Audio

Sound effects sprinkle through the rears and stereos, passable in the end if rudimentary in design. The best comes last, with a rolling steel ball through the Addams’ house that pans between speakers, with a nice low-end accompaniment. Earlier, there’s an attempted electrocution that pops lightbulbs in the full width of the soundstage.

Overall, this is generally sedate stuff. Music/soundtrack cues stretch dynamic range a bit, if still reserved. The jump to DTS-HD is not a grand one.

Extras

Nada.

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Addams Family Values
  • Video
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  • Extras
4

Movie

Snappier than the first, Addams Family Values gives Wednesday the spotlight for the better of the story and comedy.

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