Subversive comedy is in my mind, the best kind of comedy. While we are laughing, the gears in our brains are turning, bringing up questions that we might not otherwise ask.
Addams Family Values (1993) is the sequel to the 1991 film, The Addams Family. Gomez and Morticia Addams (the late Raul Julia and Angelica Houston) have just added a third bundle of joy to the family. Their elder children, Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) are not exactly pleased to have a new baby brother. In the usual Addams Family style, they do everything they can do to get rid of him.
As many parents have done before them and will do after them, Gomez and Morticia hire a nanny to help with their little one. Debbie Jellinsky (Joan Cusack) is supposed to take care of the baby. But while she is doing this, she is pretending to fall for Fester (Christopher Lloyd). The rest of his family knows that her feelings for her new fiance are merely an act. Can they stop her and reveal her true intentions before it is too late?
I was a preteen when this film was initially released, so some of the humor was above my head at the time. But looking at it with adult eyes, I find myself laughing. My favorite scenes are the ones in which the kids are at camp. When they dramatize the first Thanksgiving and delightfully shock the audience of white upper-class parents.
*Warning: this post contains spoilers read at your own risk.
On November 21st, 1997, the animated film Anastasia hit theaters.
Loosely based on the myth that Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia somehow survived the murder of her family in 1918, Anya (voiced by Meg Ryan) is an orphan who wants nothing more to find her family. Two con men, Dimitri (voiced by John Cusack) and Vladimir (Kelsey Grammer) convince her that she is Anastasia. Unbeknownst to Anya, there is a reward for the safe return of the grand duchess to her grandmother, The Dowager Empress Marie (voiced by Angela Lansbury). Neither Dimitri or Vladimir had any plans of splitting the reward with Anya, if she is believed to be Anastasia.
While this is happening, Rasputin (voiced by Christopher Lloyd) has risen from the dead and is eager to finish what he started ten years ago.
I look at this film, as I do its 1956 predecessor starring Yul Brynner and Ingrid Bergman, as a what if version of history. Especially in regards to the fact that Anastasia and Dimitri lived happily ever after. Marriages between commoners and royalty did not happen in that period.
Granted, the remains of all of the Romanovs were not found and made saints of the Russian Orthodox Church until after this film came out. This left wiggle room for the screenwriters to use the myth of the surviving Anastasia as the skeleton of the narrative.
As a narrative loosely based on a myth, it’s a reasonably good film. But to hold it up as historical fact requires a bit too much for me.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I have long memorized the story of how my parents met and took those first steps toward being a couple.
In Back To The Future (1985), Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) has been sent back in time to 1955 by Dr Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd). His mission is to make sure that this then high school age parents, Lorraine (Lea Thompson) and George (Crispin Glover) get together, otherwise he and his siblings will be erased from existence. Problems arise when his future mother develops a crush on him and his future father is too timid to stand up to the local teenage bully, Biff Tannen (Thomas F Wilson).
Back To The Future is 30 years old, but it is as fresh and entertaining as it was during it’s initial run in the movie theaters. One of my favorite things about this movie is watching Marty discover his parents, not as his parents, but as teenagers. It’s a little disconcerting watching Lorraine have a crush on a boy who the audience knows is her son. But it is a movie, so suspending reality is not such a hard thing to do.
And the DeLorean is the absolute coolest movie car ever.