Tonight's marathon is all about exploring some of the strangest, the oddest, and yet most humble American families in cinema. All of them have made a transition from television to film and with film, they are glorified for all their memorable traits. However with each family there is now an antagonist that tries to: A) Throw them out of their house for reasons of gaining money. B) Marry a member of the family to gain access to their wealth. C) Chase the family because they don't have a green card. D) Attempt to murder the entire family so they can inherit their fortune. Film offers a real challenge for these memorable yet eccentric families to face, and most don't realize til the very end just what kind of schemes are happening go them. This is a fun and slick marathon that feels like a tribute to all the iconic American families one grew up watching on tv. We have on the following menu?
The Brady Bunch Movie 1995, The Beverly Hillbillies 1993, Richie Rich 1994, Coneheads 1993, The Addams Family 1991, and The Addams Family Values 1993
This marathon just feels so perfect. One can argue that The Flintstones movie and The Simpsons film could've made it into this marathon and believe me yea i've thought about it. It all came down to I wanted to focus on the families that are not only eccentric but are facing real obstacles such as someone trying to swindle them out of their fortune, wealth, and ultimate of ultimate my their home. Getting these great characters onto film was half the challenge for the filmmakers but to give them an actual storyline for their respective films while providing real challenges and an antagonist is the rest of the battle. If you're gonna take an iconic family like The Addams Family or The Brady Bunch and put them on film, then you have to show the audience something that was never seen before on the show. You have to give them a real challenge and conflict that ultimately binds them all together. You must show off all the traits that make them iconic but also make the audience care for and root for them. It's also a great way to attract new fans to the show through the movie in hopes that they'll go back and see the source material.
The first movie of the marathon is the 1995 surprise hit The Brady Bunch Movie based on the popular 1970's television show starring Florence Henderson and Robert Reed. Starring Shelly Long and Cary Cole in the lead roles, the film takes the Brady Bunch into the 1990's era where their style of family life is completely out of place with modern times. This becomes the twist to the storyline of The Brady Bunch along with the conflict of them possibly losing their house to a relentless scheming neighbor next door play by Conehead's Michael McKean. They have to come up with $20,000 to pay in back taxes or their house will be sold off at the next auction. The Brady Bunch Movie is a respectful upgrade of the iconic television show as it takes the family to modern times but never loses what the original show was all about. The film received acclaim from critics and was a surprise hit at the box office upon it's release.
The second movie of the marathon is The Beverly Hillbillies starring Jim Varney, Dabney Coleman, and Rob Schneider. Based on the popular iconic 1960's tv show, a Hillbillie family strikes it rich when husband and father Jed Clampett strikes it rich when he comes across black oil. When he signs a contract that gives him 1 Billion dollars, he ends up moving his family to Beverly Hills. Upon arriving in Beverly Hills, Jed sets up the bank that's sponsoring him to find him a fiancé which leads to one of the banks temps using his gf as a means to gain access to Jed's fortune played by both Rob Schneider and Lea Thompson. The Beverly Hillbillies movie didn't quite receive the same kind of critical and financial success as The Brady Bunch Movie but it maintains the spirit of the original television show and much like the Brady Bunch family, the casting is perfect.
The third movie of the marathon is Richie Rich starring Macaulay Culkin and John Larroquette. Based on no television show like all the other marathons, the story centers around a rich young boy who not only longs for friends outside the premises of his mansion but finds his family targeted by a ruthless business partner in an inside job, forcing Richie to use his cunningness to save them and outsmart the films antagonist. Richie Rich qualifies as the ideal American family because it's a billionaire family of three who put the love of each other before their wealth, and genuinely care about society yet someone wants to assassinate the family in order to get to their fortune. This also remains one of the last childhood films of Macaulay Culkin back when he was in his prime from making Home Alone 1,2, and My Girl. Much like the Brady family and the Clampets, the Rich family are gullible to those who may try to hurt them but possess all the admirable traits of the past families in terms of being rich in love, family, happiness, and kind to others.
The fourth movie of the marathon is the 1993 comedy titled Coneheads starring Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin that centers around aliens with conical crania for heads crash landing on Earth and attempting to blend in with the human race as one of them ultimately. While it works for a while. they begin to get pursued by the government whose bent on preventing illegal immigrants from living in the United States. Coneheads is based off a Saturday Night skit in the1980's featuring the same lead actors in the iconic title roles. The twist to this story is the Coneheads are shown struggling to live on Earth and maintain a tight family life with the birth of a daughter. The Coneheads from the start appear to be eccentric like the previous families introduced in this marathon yet maintain a lot of their humble traits and being so gullible.
The fifth movie of the marathon is The Addams Family starring Angelica Houston, Raul Julia, and Christopher Lloyd. From director Barry Sonnenfeld who helped both Addams Family films and the Men In Black trilogy, the story focuses on an eccentric yet gothic family being the target of a group of con artists with an accomplice who they use to claim as being Gomez Addams long lost brother named Uncle Fester, The Addams Family was a blockbuster and critical success in 1991 garnering an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design, as well as praise for it's casting and technical qualities. The key to the success of the Addams Family films is that the casting hits the nail on coffin much like the other films. Can one picture someone else playing the roles of Morticia and Gomez Addams in the Addams Family movie? If the answer is no, then the filmmakers achieved exactly what they set out to do.
The sixth movie of the marathon is The Addams Family Values reuniting Raul Julia and Angelica Houston with Joan Cusack joining the cast as a new love interest for Uncle Fester. What may seem as love at first sight is really a scheme to murder Uncle Fester and inherit his fortune as his widow. It is up to his family to rescue their gullible family member from his gold-digging wife. The Addams Family Values is one of the rare sequels that improves upon it's predecessor and garnered better reviews than it's first movie but did far less at the box office. Raul Julia's passing came soon after the release of this movie which is unqestionably one of the reasons they never did make a third film in the series. The Addams Family feels like the perfect finish to the series of eccentric families because you really can't get more strange then them. The Coneheads are out there but The Addams Family are on a whole other level of weird.
So what is the message behind this marathon when you put all the movies together? The message says that even though a certain American family may come off as a bit odd to the typical person walking the street, they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Sometimes the oddest family on the block can end up being more humble and honest than everyone else on your street. Just because an eccentric family has a pile of money doesn't give con artists and Judases the right to try and steal their fortune. A boy like Ritchie Rich values friends moreso than money in regards to wealth. The Bradys view their family as being more important than a house, The Coneheads are harmless aliens who turn out to be one of the most American of families. Two brothers like Gomez and Uncle Fester can put aside their differences and rejuvenate a relationship again. No fight can keep the love of two brothers away from each other in the end. In regards to Addams Family Values, be careful of the girl you end up falling for.
RIP Raul Julia