11- An Addams Family Values Thanksgiving

In honor of Thanksgiving, we celebrate with Addams Family Values – the origins, behind the scenes, and hilarity of this weirdly Thanksgiving-themed film.

(00:00) Aaron and Melinda discuss why Anakin Skywalker is not a fan of Chris Isaac.

Hey dad - can I get a light?

Hey dad - can I get a light?

(02:57) We get back on track and introduce our topic – the 1993 film “Addams Family Values.” This movie came out the week before Thanksgiving that year, just in time to give everyone a great place to go to escape the family. However, it was not financially successful, only making back about half its budget. It’s the sequel to The Addams Family movie from 1992, and both are based on the 1938 comic published in the New Yorker magazine by Charles Addams. As opposed the campier first movie, this movie took a darker, more macabre tone which makes it so much more of a risk on the part of the filmmaker.

Wednesday, Melinda in 7th grade. It's like looking in a bitchy mirror.

(11:33) Melinda recalls how frequently she has been compared to Wednesday… and she definitely considers that a good thing.

(13:32) The 60s TV adaptation is where the characters from the comics became fleshed out for the first time and were actually given names. Plus, we got the extremely memorable theme song. The show was a challenge to make due to ownership rights being tied up in litigation between Addams and his second wife who had managed to get ownership in a bitter divorce 8 years earlier. Melinda *almost* brings it back to murder by saying Charles Manson instead of Charles Addams.

The original Addams Family comic, later mirrored in Addams Family Values.

(15:22) While the original Addams Family film had more of the wacky tone of the 60s TV show, Addams Family Values would likely have been a hit with Charles Addams himself, who always wished the TV show had been darker and more like his original comic series. Due to the success of the first film, the writer and director were given much more latitude to go really gruesome, including putting the baby in a guillotine and dropping him off the roof. This darker tone echoed the imagery in a number of films in this time period, including many Tim Burton Films (Batman, Nightmare Before Christmas), movies like Scrooged and Beetlejuice, and Sandman Comics.

(18:00) This movie directly references a number of the original comics, and has a pacing that feels very centered around punchlines that need to land, as opposed to having developing character arcs and a strongly cohesive story. Even so, it is very successful in being entertaining and funny.

(19:34) Cast and crew. Director Barry Sonenfeld (not SonenFIELD, as Melinda accidentally said) makes a quick cameo in the movie as the father of Wednesday’s camp crush Joel. Paul Rudnick is the writer, also having worked on Sister Act. Fun cameos include Nathan Lane and Tony Shalhoub – both being quick appearances that are unexpected surprises when watching. Carol Kane replaces Judith Malina as Grandma – and there isn’t any info on why.

Stills from Michael Jackson's video featurette for "Is It Scary?," made for the film. The answer is - Yes, it is scary.

Stills from Michael Jackson's video featurette for "Is It Scary?," made for the film. The answer is - Yes, it is scary.

(22:42) Michael Jackson’s and a song for this film called “Is It Scary,” but due to the then newly emerging molestation allegations coming forward, the studio not only dropped the song from the film but added a jab at MJ in the movie, as Joel gasps in horror at an MJ poster in the Harmony Hut. The video for the song, which was completed and can be found online features a long cinematic intro, reminiscent of “Bad.” In it, a mob of parents with torches storm an Addams-style house. “We want you out of town, you don’t fit in here. You’re not like us,” the angry parents declare.

(23:59) In other scandals, “Whoomp! Addams Family - There it is” came from “Whoomp! There It Is” by Tag Team which is clearly a ripoff of “Whoot!” There It Is” by 95 South which came out two months earlier. Don’t believe us? Click the links and listen.

(30:34) The original budget for the film was $75 million, but it only made $48 million (compared to $113 million for the original). It was knocked out of first place by Mrs. Doubtfire and A Perfect World. Do you remember A Perfect World? We don’t either.

They made us sing.

They made us sing.

(32:00) The entire summer camp plot line is brilliantly executed and is probably the best part of the movie. Melinda is eager to point out that Joel’s serial killer cards are based on real cards.Mercedes McNab begins her career of playing snotty blond girls in this movie with the role of Amanda Buckman (she also played Harmony Kendall in Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Other great additions to the film are Catherine O’Hara and Christopher Lloyd.

(45:38) Carol Kane, Anjelica Huston, and Christopher Lloyd all spent about 3 hours in makeup each day prior to their performances and the ladies both wore very heavy wigs. Christina Ricci sport red nail polish, even though she’s at summer camp, which just shows her dedication.

(50:00) Twin girls played the role of Pubert, and Cheerios on a string were used to lure the babies where they needed them to go. Aaron questions this as a good parenting strategy. We cite examples of other showbiz kids as reasons why he’s probably right.

(58:19) Melinda shares a failed pickup line someone once tried on her (it’s related, we promise). She follows up with a line she used that failed hard. We discuss general pickup line parameters for success. Send us your draft versions of pickup lines and we will tell you how likely they are to succeed!

(1:07:11) We reveal the results of our Thanksgiving holiday special Facebook poll – Peanuts beat Garfield by a landslide. One FB follower noted that his family watches Tron at Thanksgiving, and we like this, so we decide everyone should do this.