A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Addams Family Values is the 1993 sequel to the 1991 movie and 1960s television show in which Uncle Fester unwittingly marries a serial killer. Like its predecessors, there's plenty of macabre humor and comedic violence, including scenes featuring bathtub electrocution, Wednesday attempting to throw her infant baby brother off a roof, attempts at beheading, and serial killer trading cards. A voluptuous villain has explicit sexual designs on Uncle Fester; seduction and discussions of virginity. Foster keeps a magazine with pictures of scantily-clad women under his bed. Talk of sex between Fester and Debbie. When a child claims that a stork visiting parents is the reason babies are made, Wednesday counters with, "They had sex." Cigar and cigarette smoking. Infrequent mild profanity, including rude phrases like "eat me." Some drinking, including a cocktail mixed for a baby.
What's the story?
The Addams Family is back in ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES, in which the children's jealousy of new baby brother Pubert leads to the hiring of an evil nanny named Debby (Joan Cusack), who has designs on Uncle Fester. When she sends Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) to a snobbish summer camp and marries Fester, things look grim. Can the kids expose Debby in time to save their uncle -- and the rest of the family?
Is it any good?
More complex and just as witty as the first film, this one is also more disturbingly violent and sexually insinuating -- too much so for the youngest ones who might enjoy the first movie. Cusack is marvelous as the greedy black widow, and the addition of Pubert to the family offers lots of laughs, especially when we learn how much his parents are enjoying Morticia's painful labor. However, a lot of violent action (with too-near misses) involves him, and some parents might feel uncomfortable with it.
The scenes at camp are among Addams Family Values' cleverest. Kids who've felt isolated at camp will identify entirely as misfits Wednesday and Pugsley struggle in a world of conformist blond snobs. Although the action here occasionally drags, the other campers and the enthusiastic, uncomprehending counselors make great foils for the Addams children's macabre revenge. Again, some parents might find that the humor goes unnecessarily far. And it's a satisfying relief when the family members are reunited, and return to their bleakly cozy mansion.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about macabre humor. How does the movie use humor rooted in death and violence to get laughs?
Talk about a time when each family member maintained his or her values in the face of peer pressure in Addams Family Values.
What would be the challenges in trying to adapt a television show from the past into something that would appeal to modern audiences?
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