Let’s Explore the Weird Backstory Behind ‘Addams Family Values,’ the Perfect Thanksgiving Film

Let’s Explore the Weird Backstory Behind ‘Addams Family Values,’ the Perfect Thanksgiving Film

Written by Matt Baume on November 14, 2019
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It’s the perfect Thanksgiving film: Addams Family Values is dark, shocking and features a musical indictment of the racist annual celebration of our nation’s founding. But behind the scenes, the making of the film was a strange labor of love.

The queer origins of Addams Family Values

The creative team behind the film is Scott Rudin and Paul Rudnick, who had been collaborating on the Sister Act project since the late ’80s. The script for Addams Family Values was having difficulty, and so Rudin brought Rudnick in to fix it. It’s thanks to him that it has such a biting edge.

But some of the jokes have a long history. The name of the baby, Pubert, was the original name for Pugsley in the Addams Family TV series. Back in the 1960s, though, that name was rejected for sounding too sexual.

Addams Family Values features the perfect cast

Most of the cast from the original returned, though Carol Kane was a new addition as Grandmama. (In reality, she’s a year younger than Anjelica Huston, but the prosthetic makeup, resembling the mask she wore in The Princess Bride, hid her true appearance.)

Christopher Lloyd was terrified that he’d be replaced as Fester. His head was far more lean than the character in the cartoon, and during one meeting before shooting he was troubled by the presence of another actor with a much rounder head. (That guy wound up being his stand-in.)

And there was another pleasantly familiar face: the little girl who played the Girl Scout in the first movie was back in Addams Family Values with an expanded role. Mercedes McNab borrowed a friend’s uniform for her first audition, and soon enough she was recognized everywhere as the Girl Scout concerned about real lemons.


Costume effects in Addams Family Values

Although the film employed a complex range of special effects, some of the visuals were achieved through clever physical talent. The lighting was carefully crafted around Morticia’s eyes, and she wore a complex webbing of strings that pulled the skin on her face very tight.

Carol Kane had it even tougher. Her wig weighed around five pounds and hung down to her feet.

Alas, there was nothing to be done about the Joel character’s nascent mustache — the actor wasn’t quite ready to grow facial hair, and Christina Ricci found their kiss very unpleasant.

The Jackson joke that wasn’t

There was one joke that was deemed a little too dark and edgy for the movie. Michael Jackson was going to play an inhabitant of the Addams mansion, and he even recorded a song and video for Addams Family Values. After he was accused of molestation, however, it was just too uncomfortable to have him in the film.

The only surviving element of that joke is a sight gag in which a Michael Jackson poster makes a child scream. Yikes.

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