The Addams Family is a black humour films with a fun, playful and macabre tone. Its idea can be traced back to Charles Addams comic and the adaptation of cartoon in TV featuring the life of gothic family from 1912 to 1988 when its ideas of weird but funny monster family critics the mainstream social value.
The first film The Addams Family (1991) set a tone of a gothic sitcom by talking about the life of Gomez Addams (Raul Julia) with his impressive moustache and his beloved wife Morticia (Anjelica Huston), an undead beauty, and their effort to find back Gomez’s brother Fester Addams (Christopher Lloyd). The first movie of Addams Family introduces the funny undead – teasing the life with dead bodies and and guillotine dolls, living in castle and wealth but the smell that rotten to core – and it ends by Fester changed his mind to back to family. There is something more in the family: Things (Christopher Hart), a powerful walking hand; Lurch (Carel Struychen), a tall and gloomy butler but loyal to the family; and Gomez’s children, Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman).
With the fantasy cast and a strong beginning, the Addams Family Values (1993) goes deeper into its core: rethinking of the opposition between life and death, the conflict value between common family and the gothic. Addams Family Valuesgives much focus on the children and how they save the family from the scheme of Fester’s new lover Debbie (Joan Cusack) – the nanny who tries to kill fester for his money. Wednesday is sent away to the summer camp by Debbie, where Wednesday is exposed to a group of American children and their families and her values adapted from a gothic family are so irreconcilable with the modern life and treated as rebellion from the other families. The most astonishing thing happens finally: in the graduation performance, Wednesday dressed like an American India who supposed to be the anti-protagonist in the rehearsal, sets up a fire and plays as the heroin to critics to invasion from the American.
Wednesday points out the conflict and the stereotype between the minority and the mainstream value that hidden behind the film from the invisible category so long. We are supposing a bright, happy and positive life is always the correct value without even thinking on it when we see the dark, gothic and creepy life of “death” in a gothic family. Wednesday is the undead girl who is exposed under sunlight, no matter she is a gothic girl, of an American Indian, the moment she set a fire symbolises the rebellion from the “Other” to the “One”.
Wednesday is the highlight of the whole sequel. Ricci’s performance gives the life to the character. Wednesday is so cool: she cold, brilliant, and gloomy (like everyone from Addams). Originally, Wednesday was just a nameless girl in the comic and she was named “Wednesday” on the TV screen for a nursery rhyme of “Wednesday’s child is full of woe”. I guess no one would like Wednesday as the most depressive day among the weekday, but Ricci did burden the grief and alienation of “Wednesday” in Addams Family. In Ricci’s later work Buffalo ’66 (1998), she played as Layla who is kidnapped by a man released from prison, asked to pretend to be his girlfriend and brought to his family. Ricci’s tap dance under the dim light of a Bowling Alley shows loneliness of Layla with a sense of Stockholm Syndrome. It’s just so beautiful.
Recently, a series Wednesday produced by Netflix and directed by Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, 1990; Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, 2016, etc.) will be launched in November, talking about the school life of Wednesday Addams. Tim Burton and Addams family, would it be the best match of super nature and dark subject? Wednesday will be played by Jenna Ortega and it seems that Ricci will also return. Looking forward to this.