Remembering Camp Chippewa from ‘The Addams Family Values’

There’s a new Addams Family on the horizon–sadly it is, for some reason, an animated movie. Wouldn’t a limited live-action series on Netflix be better?

I digress.

There’s a new Addams Family on the horizon, which means Paramount has re-released the original two movies on DVD and Blu-ray–both separately and in a 2-movie collection. And anytime you have the chance to revisit Camp Chippewa, you fucking revisit Camp Chippewa.

The summer camp, of course, is the most memorable aspect of the two movies which starred Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, and best of all, Christina Ricci. After Wednesday and Pugsley Addams (Ricci and Jimmy Workman, respectively) repeatedly attempt to murder their infant brother in The Addams Family Values (1993)–actually, after they begin to suspect that their new aunt is actually a gold-digging murderer bent on killing their Uncle Fester–they are sent to a cheerfully racist summer camp led by the cheerfully awful Peter MacNicol and Christine Baranski.

There, Wednesday, Pugsley and other rejects (primarily darker skinned children) are ridiculed by the camp counselors and the various white and blond rich kids… but of course, Wednesday and Pugsley are always up for delicious revenge. And they have a more morbid sense of humor.

Their part of the story of The Addams Family Values concludes with Wednesday leading her rejects–all cast as subservient Indians during a musical rendition of The First Thanksgiving–to rebellion, burning the camp to the ground and maybe/maybe not murdering some of those who wronged them.

Camp Chippewa isn’t the only highlight of the two Addams Family movies–Values alone is full of brilliantly dark one-liners–but it is a gloriously envisioned piece of filmmaking by director Barry Sonenfeld. From Ricci’s pitch-perfect delivery to MacNicol’s small but masterful role, it is one of the funniest payoffs in movie lore.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Comedies