Archive for November 1993

Addams Family Values

November 19, 1993

This superior sequel — ­­ great title, by the way — ­­ has three plots to make up for the original movie’s absence of plot. Unfortunately, that means less screen time for Gomez (Raul Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston), but who cares when you have Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) and Wednesday (Christina Ricci) going off to summer camp! Their adventures with hyper counselors Peter MacNicol and Christine Baranski are priceless, culminating in a paroxysm of fire and random brutality that reduced me to helpless laughter. (Credit MacNicol with the idea for the roasting spit.) Joan Cusack, in a gleefully bent performance, is a murderous gold-digger who comes to take care of the Addamses’ new baby Pubert and sets her sights on poor Fester (Christopher Lloyd). Barry Sonnenfeld did right by this series (which was sadly cut short by the untimely passing of Raul Julia in 1994), though it’s fun to imagine what John Waters might have done with it; the series definitely expresses Waters’ embrace of misfits and mistrust of “normal” people. Followed in 1998 by a TV movie (Addams Family Reunion) with a different cast (Tim Curry and Daryl Hannah stepped in as Gomez and Morticia). With Carol Kane (in for Judith Malina), Carel Struycken, Christopher Hart, Dana Ivey, Nathan Lane, Tony Shalhoub, Peter Graves, David Hyde Pierce, and Charles Busch. Sonnenfeld’s next was Get Shorty.


November 5, 1993

A fascinating, aggressively verbose slice of British squalor. Johnny (David Thewlis), a 27-year-old drifter, shambles into London from Manchester, insinuates himself into the lives of everyone he meets, and never shuts up. Johnny is one of those brilliant losers who have ample time to think about why everything sucks, and he’s always spewing one apocalyptic theory or another. (His bar-code theory makes a weird kind of sense.) The film isn’t just about Johnny — its true subject is the lonely people (including the late, great Katrin Cartlidge) who accept this scabrous slacker into their lives because their lives feel so empty. Johnny fills their time and space with words and sometimes harsh shagging. Writer-director Mike Leigh, with his legendary method of leaving his cast alone to explore their characters for months before a frame is shot, finds edgy humor in this abyss, and vibrant life, too. It’s a great ensemble movie, but Thewlis (long before he gained kiddie cred in the Harry Potter movies) is a revelation; he makes Johnny both punk-rock nihilistic and oddly gentle — an unstable mix of Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious — so that you can’t pin him down from scene to scene. Highly recommended, as are all of Leigh’s other films.