Sex, Love and Videotape

On movie sex and movie love...

Addams Family Values

  • YEAR: 1993
  • DIRECTOR: Barry Sonnenfeld
  • KEY ACTORS: Angelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Joan Cusack
  • CERTIFICATE: PG
  • IMDB SCORE: 6.8
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 75%

SEX SCORE: 5/5
✔️ Just so rewatchable!
✔️ I would definitely fuck the cast…
✔️ …and it did inspire fantasies. Gomez and Morticia are the archetypal #RelationshipGoals!
✔️ It has to be sex positive as this movie actively celebrates all types of love and sex between all types of people without shame! 
✔️ And it passes the Bechdel Test! 5/5 movie!!

As always, this contains spoilers so watch the film before you read on…

STREAMING: Paramount Plus (free with subscription) Amazon Prime (rent £3.49, buy £5.99), YouTube (from £2.49). For a full list of streaming options, check out JustWatch.com

Why are sequels so often more interesting than the original movie? Magic Mike XXL, Grease 2, Incredibles 2, Wonder Woman 1984all sequels that I have written about without bothering to review the original release! These sequels are not always better, and in the case of Wonder Woman is significantly worse, but I think the fact that the characters are already established and don’t need origin stories creates space for more plot and more intrigue that do make the films more interesting!

And today’s movie – Addams Family Values – is no different. One of very few movies where the sequel is almost universally thought to be better than the original, part of me is a bit surprised that it has taken me so long to write about it as it is a pretty much perfect Sex, Love and Videotape movie, as demonstrated by its 5/5 score! It’s wonderfully made, it has several strong female characters who are in control of their sexuality, it deals with feminist themes that are close to my heart, it’s smart and it’s funny, and I love it!

A shocked looking Gomez, holding baby Pubert

After introducing us to the famous characters in the original movie, Addams Family Values follows the spooky and kooky family in the next stages of their lives. Morticia (Huston) and Gomez (Julia) have a third child, Pubert, and employ a nappy, Debbie (Cusack), to help with the childcare. The arrival of this baby causes such intense jealousy in Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) that they are sent to summer camp, with appropriately hilarious consequences. Seeing Gomez so happy with his growing family, Uncle Fester (Lloyd) starts to feel lonely in his bachelor life, falls in love with and then marries Debbie…who sadly is a serial killer known as the Black Widow with desires for Fester’s fortune. Of course, her attempts to kill him just confirm Fester’s love and it takes the whole family coming together to save the day!

How I relate to Addams Family Values, and the whole Addams family, has definitely changed as I’ve aged. When I first watched the films as a teenager, I loved Wednesday’s sense of self and absolute refusal to bend or change to society’s expectations. As a younger woman, I related to Fester’s yearning to find someone who loved me as much as Gomez loves Morticia. Someone who could love me just as I am, accepting what I might have perceived as weird habits and unconventional appearances. Now, as a wife and mother of two, I am in awe of Morticia!

Morticia and Gomez in the Addams Family Values, sitting together in a graveyard

In fairness, I always have been. Morticia’s classic style and elegance has always been aspirational, and I have never ever put on a long black dress without wondering if I could possibly look as good as her. But it was only on this rewatch that I fully appreciated how successfully her position as the matriarch of a family full of strong personalities was used to satire traditional family values and make a feminist argument about how women themselves are valued within these families.

Of course, this was all very intentional. Paul Rudnick, the screenwriter, told The Hollywood Reporter, that even the movie’s name was specifically chosen to draw comparisons with these traditional values and hoped to show how oppressive they can be: ‘I did also want the movie’s name to be a response to the Republican Party’s constant harping on “family values,” as if only conservatives could define a loving family. In Republican terms, “family values” is always code for censorship and exclusion, and Republicans still refuse to respect or even acknowledge, for example, LGBTQ families. I like to believe that the Addams Family is far more loving and accepting than their enemies.’ A quote about a film from the early 1990s that is only becoming more relevant…

Despite the obvious misogyny within horror, with sexual women cut down left, right and centre, there is a lot of space within this genre for feminism and an exploration of our dangerous and bloody lives. And more than this, the Addams Family sit in a queerer corner of the genre – Halloween! From the Greenwich Village Halloween Parades that started in 1976 following the Stonewall Riots of 1969 to the proposed queerness of the classic horror characters, such as Dracula and Frankenstein, Halloween has become a ‘queer Christmas,’ a place for outsiders where gender ambiguity and particularly drag has become acceptable and encouraged: ‘Almost all the creatures of horror find themselves as social outcasts, and as such, the genre can be seen as one that celebrates queerness, while also representing the fears and prejudices society has used to attack the queer community.’ And that’s what and who the Addams Family are. They are outsiders and comfortably so, but their exaggerated ‘differences’ from mainstream society are exactly what makes them relatable.

Because this is where Morticia shines! Soon after Baby Pubert is born, she says to Gomez that she’s ‘just like any modern woman trying to have it all. Loving husband, a family. It’s just, I wish I had more time to seek out the dark forces and join their hellish crusade.’ YES! That’s exactly the problem with trying to have it all! There are so many pressures and expectations on parents that we simply don’t have time to do those things that we enjoy and that make us who we are. For me, it’s watching long long movies; for Morticia, it’s hellish crusades, but the effect is the same – we lose sight of ourselves.

Gomez and Morticia have a reputation for being the perfect couple – ‘soulmates, tethered by the same shadows and forged in the same kind of embers’ – but, for me, their love is expressed in more ways than their intense sexual chemistry (more on this later!). As soon as Morticia tells Gomez about how she wishes she had more time, they hire a nanny! Now, the hiring of domestic help, especially when this is usually provided by minority women for wealthy white women, remains a contentious feminist topic but, for me, it falls under the heading of being the lesser of two evils, because it does allow women the freedom to return to work or take time for themselves.

Morticia, sitting next to the baby's pram

I love that Morticia is given the time and space to be herself because she it means that she has become the role model we all need! Angelica Huston was in her 40s when she was cast and yet, she is still beautiful, elegant, powerful and, most importantly, sexy! Quite aside for how rarely women in their 40s are allowed to be sexy on screen, so much of my research pointed out how differently mothers and wives were portrayed on screen at the same time period. Whether nagging or boring or incompetent, these women ‘reinforced tropes of mothers or ex-wives that are shrill or overbearing.’ Think of Mrs Doubtfire, released the same year as The Addams Family Values, and how Sally Field (aged 47 at the time) nagged and shouted and complained and was essentially the villain of the movie, even before considering how she was shown to be selfish and perhaps a bit ridiculous for seeking a relationship with Pierce Brosnan when she ‘should’ have been saving her marriage to Robin Williams.

And amongst all of this was Morticia – a woman who gets to be sexy and a good mother AND a good wife! The more usual representation of wives as a progressive burden is even used as a sex joke:

Morticia: So… you still desire me after all these years? The old ball and chain? 
Gomez: Forever! 
Morticia: I’ll get them!

Morticia and Gomez tangoing!

I have to say that Gomez and Morticia’s sex lives and evident desire for each other is really fucking aspirational. With two children under 5 and a full time job, I don’t feel like it’ll come as much of a shock to admit that I’ve struggled with desire and my libido since becoming a mother, so I love love loved seeing a marriage portrayed on screen where time and children haven’t dulled their desire and sex remains an important and defining part of their relationship. Obviously, I wish that this had been possible in a couple that weren’t also defined by their otherness and peculiarity but beggars can’t be choosers! Morticia and Gomez are so hot that they literally start fires with their tango, and the hints and in-jokes at their BDSM relationships suggest that they have an equal partnership, exploring their desires together. I love them.

As an aside, my favourite bit of research was discovering that the reason Morticia was filmed with a prominent light over her eyes was an exaggeration of something Huston insists on: ‘I have a clause in my contract that says I can have a key light [to light my face]…Before [Prizzi’s Honour], I didn’t have the power to ask for a key light in my contract. I often found myself so badly lit, that I just put this clause in my contract in order to avoid repeating the same conversation with every director of photography. After that, I would have a key light any time they did close-ups of me. I think Barry and Scott turned that into a running joke: the key light became even smaller, almost envelope-like. Working with that key light feels so good.’ I love love love Huston having the confidence and power to ask for what she needs to be comfortable working. She IS Morticia!

Morticia and Wednesday in Addams Family Values with a bright light shining over Morticia's eyes

Whereas the original movie was about being true to ourselves and accepting our unique weirdnesses, Addams Family Values teaches us that, as a family, these individual differences can make us stronger, not weaker. Make us better parents even! Morticia and Gomez are able to be there for their children because they don’t feel limited by society’s expectations of what being a parent should look like and are able to revel in their kinky and kooky selves. 

I make no apologies that this review is a love letter to Morticia Addams and ignores the other incredible women in Addams Family Values. In the month that I went back to work, leaving my baby at nursery, and the month after my big girl started school, I really needed her! To quote Kayleigh Dray in Stylist, ‘Morticia teaches us to ignore what everyone wants us to do and embrace our own badass selves for who we truly are. To be unafraid to stand out from the crowd. And, above all else, to let go of the fucking patriarchy and be our best feminist self.

This Halloween, I might be dressing up as Morticia but I intend to channel her throughout the rest of the year. That amount of power really shouldn’t be confined to Spooky Season!

Morticia Addams, looking incredible in black lace!

NEXT TIME… Fair Play

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Copyright All stills and photos are sourced from MovieStillsDB and CineMaterial, and are the courtesy of their respective production studios and/or distribution companies. Images are intended for educational or editorial use only.

La La Land

  • YEAR: 2016
  • DIRECTOR: Damien Chazelle
  • KEY ACTORS: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone
  • CERTIFICATE: 12A
  • IMDB SCORE: 8.0
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 91%

SEX SCORE: 4/5
✔️ This is very rewatchable, and I get something new from it each time.
✔️ The cast are incredibly fuckable. When are either of them ever not?
✔️ And it did inspire fantasies. Who doesn’t want to dance with a beautiful partner above the LA sunset?
✔️ Technically it passes the Bechdel Test but it’s a close call. Are characters truly ‘named’ if they’re only named in the credits? Is one conversation really enough?
❌ There isn’t really any sex in the movie to work out sex positivity but the gender politics haven’t really aged well so I can’t give it a mark!

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Barbie

  • YEAR: 2023
  • DIRECTOR: Greta Gerwig
  • KEY ACTORS: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera
  • CERTIFICATE: 12A
  • IMDB SCORE: 7.3
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 88%

SEX SCORE: 3/5
✔️ I saw it twice in four days and again since so yes, absolutely rewatchable!
✔️ And, of course, it passes the Bechdel Test!
❌ It didn’t really inspire fantasies…
❌ …nor would I fuck the cast. Beautiful, yes; plastic, absolutely!
✔️ But I am going to say that it is sex positive. There’s no sex but it definitely supports reproductive healthcare so that’s good enough for me!

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The Shape of Water

  • YEAR: 2017
  • DIRECTOR: Guillermo del Toro
  • KEY ACTORS: Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer
  • CERTIFICATE: 15
  • IMDB SCORE: 7.3
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 92%

SEX SCORE: 4/5

✔️ It is rewatchable. If I switched channels and this was on, I’d keep watching. At least until the sex scenes – they’re fascinating!
✔️ It does pass the Bechdel test, although because of insignificant passing conversations rather than because the women have a plot that does not involve men/fishmen.
✔️ And of course it’s sex positive! It’s about fucking a sea creature and those who judge her are considered the bad guys!
❌ While it didn’t inspire fantasies
✔️ …I would fuck the cast. I wouldn’t consider myself a monster fucker but that is one hot fishman!

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Bound

  • YEAR: 1996
  • DIRECTOR: Lilly and Lana Wachowski
  • KEY ACTORS: Gina Gershon, Jennifer Tilly, Joe Pantoliano
  • CERTIFICATE: 18 
  • IMDB SCORE: 7.3
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 89%

SEX SCORE: 4.5/5

✔️ This is definitely rewatchable because it is just so much fun!
✔️ And I absolutely would fuck the cast! I’m Kinsey 0-1 but Tilly and Gershon are so fucking hot that I don’t think that matters!
✔️ This is a queer movie with female protagonists – of course they talk about more than just men! Clear pass.
✔️ I do think it’s sex positive – the sex is authentic and looks both hot and a lot of fun! 
❓ And I’m giving it a half mark for inspiring fantasies because they’re not very specific to this movie! But as I said, the sex looks hot and a lot of fun, and who wouldn’t want sex like that?

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Pretty Woman

  • YEAR: 1990
  • DIRECTOR: Garry Marshall
  • KEY ACTORS: Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Laura San Giacomo
  • CERTIFICATE: 15
  • IMDB SCORE: 7.1
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 65%

SEX SCORE: 5/5

✔️ This passes the Bechdel Test easily, but there are really only two named female characters so it’s good that they talk about a lot!
✔️ And it is rewatchable. It’s a classic for a reason!
✔️ I also would fuck the cast. Both Gere and Roberts are at their hotness peaks and are stunningly beautiful!
✔️ It probably did inspire fantasies too. Sex without kissing, sex on a piano, being so overtly and overwhelming desired…
✔️ And I think it is sex positive! It’s not a straightforward decision – sex is tangled inextricably with love but it sends good safe sex messages, it understands consent, and it shows that sex is pretty joyful and therapeutic!

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The Power of the Dog

  • YEAR: 2021
  • DIRECTOR: Jane Campion
  • KEY ACTORS: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons
  • CERTIFICATE: 12A
  • IMDB SCORE: 6.9
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 94%

SEX SCORE: 1/5

❌ I’m sad about the low score for this one as it’s a better film that my score will reflect, but I didn’t want to fuck the cast…
…and it didn’t inspire fantasies. It’s an emotionally manipulative and repressed film, and I didn’t really like any of them.
❌ And it also fails the Bechdel Test. There are at least two named women, Rose and Mrs Lewis, but I can’t recall them talking, and the other women don’t have names.
❌ I also can’t give it a mark for sex positivity. The relationships are strained and abusive, and sexuality is repressed and harmful.
✔️ But I think it is rewatchable. I didn’t initially, but I can’t stop thinking about it and now really want to see it again…

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The Worst Person in the World

Or Verdens verste menneske

  • YEAR: 2021
  • DIRECTOR: Joachim Trier
  • KEY ACTORS: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Herbert Nordrum
  • CERTIFICATE: 15
  • IMDB SCORE: 7.9
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 96%

SEX SCORE: 4/5

✔️ I’ve only seen this once but I can’t wait to see it again, so I’m going to say that it is rewatchable!
✔️ And it did pass the Bechdel test, but only just… This isn’t an ensemble cast movie though and is specifically about one woman’s relationship with the men in her life so it’s not surprising that there is only one conversation between women.
❌ I didn’t really want to fuck the cast, but this is my preference rather than a problem with them. They are objectively hot and fuckable, but just not for me!
✔️ It did inspire fantasies – of having that kind of perfect first meeting when everything feels new and exciting and the potential is intoxicating!
✔️ And it is sex positive. And feminist and, well, excellent!

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Witness

  • YEAR: 1985
  • DIRECTOR: Peter Weir
  • KEY ACTORS: Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis
  • CERTIFICATE: 15
  • IMDB SCORE: 7.4
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 93%

SEX SCORE: 3.5/5

❌ I’ve made a decision to fail all movies where I have to think about the fine details of the Bechdel Test to determine if it has passed. This is such a low bar that unless it’s a clear pass, it’s going to fail. So this fails the Bechdel Test. There are only two named female characters who have only one verbal exchange. It isn’t explicitly about a man but it does mention a man and, damn, it is not good enough!
✔️ But it is definitely rewatchable! Intense, entertaining and surprisingly excellent.
✔️ And yes, I would fuck the cast. Absolutely. Definitely. Yes.
❓The fantasies question is difficult. Because the fantasies that it did inspire are so vague – letting someone watch you, desiring something you can’t have – that I’m not sure they can really be credited to this movie. Half a point!
✔️And this is definitely sex positive. Consensual, beautiful and hot!

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Incredibles 2

  • YEAR: 2018
  • DIRECTOR: Brad Bird
  • KEY ACTORS: Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson
  • CERTIFICATE: PG
  • IMDB SCORE: 7.6
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 93%

SEX SCORE: 3/5

✔️ This does pass the Bechdel Test but that’s not a given with Pixar – only 4 of the first 14 movies pass, which is very disappointing!
✔️ It is rewatchable! I love their universe and their family and I love spending time with them, although the first movie is much better…
✔️ And while I would fuck the cast – Helen Parr is hot and smart and capable and who wouldn’t?!
❌ …it didn’t inspire specific fantasies. There are plenty of superheroes to fulfil that role and the adult Incredibles are low down that list!
❌ But is it sex positive? Maybe not? There’s not much actual sex content but I feel what little there is became a source of humour and I have problems with certain sexist tropes…

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