The Addams Family (1991)
Unique, morbid slapstick satire about a family of freakish eccentrics, the Addams. Christina has an unforgettable role as the delightfully evil daughter. This movie is faithful to the cult television series on which it is based.
The Addams Family (and its sequel Addams Family Values) has a strong cult appeal for two distinct reasons: the overall unmatched style of slapstick comedy it presents, and, in eyes of many, the best role ever for ten-year-old Christina. Christina Ricci in The Addams Family is one of the things not to be overlooked, despite her fairly modest role.
The Addams family, the core of the story, has a centuries long history consisting of freaks of every kind. Much of the comedy stems from the upside down world view of the Addams. Always sharply dressed, they live in their large, gothic mansion, and follow their pursuits of torment and misery. "Play with your food" is one typical parental order – and their food might just escape the plate otherwise. And you mustn't threaten your brother with a large knife, because a sword is much better.
Family ties are strong even for the Addams, and there is much rejoicing as the long lost uncle Fester return one rainy night. But it's an impostor who is after the Addams fortune, which establishes the plot of the film. However, the plot is not of major significance; if it were, this movie would be in some trouble. The directing style and overall appearance, all-important in this movie, have been accurately compared to that of Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice.
Perhaps the most important element is the characters. Explaining the nature of the Addams family members could only fail miserably, so suffice it to say they are all unique, funny, and excellently acted. All the main characters from the original television series are present, including Cousin Itt, Thing (the very emotive severed hand), and, my personal favorite, Lurch (the Addams' tall, sympathetic servant of obvious Frankenstein heritage). But despite the fairly big names of the lead actors, they pale next to Christina's character Wednesday.
Wednesday, the daughter of the Addams, is an intense sight, delightfully evil, an extreme "bad girl." Of sorts. She dresses in black, gothy clothes, has black hair, behaves with a restraint peculiar for a child, and fully shares her family's attraction to malice. Yet the audience has no choice but to like her, that solemn, precocious, head-turning little girl.
Christina is amply qualified for her role, and it's hard to imagine the movie with anyone else in her place. In addition to Christina's talent, she has an unusual looking face, which lends itself well to the surreal style of the movie. It's difficult to be certain of Christina's age when the movie was filmed; often her face and size look like those of a nine-year-old, while there is obvious teenager in her body. To some extent, Christina has this characteristic even today.
At times the child beneath Wednesday's cool shows through, possibly intentionally, but that's not a problem. The movie is well in touch with its silliness, and the audience is not exactly supposed to take all things seriously. It's intelligent silliness. So, the impression is instead attractive, endearing, and utmostly memorable.
The Addams Family is heads and shoulders above the ordinary, a finely crafted and unique comedy, almost defining a genre of its own. But more than that, it has Christina Ricci as Wednesday.