“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” -Groucho Marx
There are plenty of sexy actresses I'd love to hop in time-traveling Delorean/phonebooth and visit in their prime. For some, that peak is easier to define than others. For Phoebe Cates, it was FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH. For Lauren Holly, it was DUMB AND DUMBER. For this next hottie, it's a but tougher to pick out, much like Lucy Lawless or Elizabeth Hurley. She's gone through several different phases of presence, from dark and gloomy to cheerful and happy. I personally prefer the gloomy side, only because it seems right up her alley. So let's snap our fingers to the sound of the pipe organ in honor of Christina Ricci.
Seeing as this is October, the month of All Hallows’ Eve, it seems fitting to reminisce over Christina’s rather spooky filmography, seeing as her most famous films involve ghosts and ghouls. I’d like to focus mainly on those films, without digging too deep into every project this incredibly busy young actress was involved with. Ricci was born in Santa Monica, California and raised in New Jersey, where her acting chops were discovered at 8-years-old by a critic for the Bergen Record, for her role in the Montclair school play, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Supposedly, another boy child was up for the same role, but she tricked him into hitting on her, then told on him, so he got kicked out of the play. What a c*nt. Must be that wicked evilness Samuel L. Jackson was talking about. So after some exposure in the commercial industry, she landed her first role in MERMAIDS, as Cher’s daughter. It earned her a Young Artist Award for Best Young Artist in a Supporting Role Motion Picture. Christina even took part in the music-video for Cher’s cover of “It’s In His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song)”, which if you check out, you can see how badly Christina doesn’t want to be there. But it got her noticed enough to land the role of this little villain…
When the 1991 take on THE ADDAMS FAMILY first hit the scene, two characters in specific stole the show: Anjelica Huston as Morticia Addams, Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams, and Lurch (okay, three characters). The writers drew special attention to them with their dark interpretations of an already dark-enough family. I remember thinking Wednesday was cool, which probably wasn’t good for my age. In retrospect, I just admired that she was a child messing around with knives, fire, crossbows, axes, electricity… did I mention fire? Wednesday loves fire.
Christina went on to prove her passion for pyromania in the sequel, THE ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES. You’d think bringing a baby into the first sequel to a semi-successful movie would be box-office suicide, but it actually made more dough than the first, and even sat better with the critics. I’d bet much of that is thanks to Joan Cusack as the “Black Widow” serial killer who steals the weak-willed Uncle Fester’s (Christopher Lloyd) heart, but Christina is also the best Wednesday Addams a fan could hope for. In Act One, she and her brother Pugsley attempt to kill the newborn baby Addams over and over. In Act Two, she’s the only one in the family actively uncovering just what Joan Cusack is doing with f*ck-mug Fester. In Act Three, she plays a vengeful Pocahontas at her summer camp’s Thanksgiving play, who sets fire to the pilgrim village, and some of the by-standing parents in the audience. She really, really loves fire.
So ultimately, Wednesday Addams was just the gothic version of Pippi Longstocking, but at least Wednesday fessed up to the damage she caused, with her head held up high. This might still be the best role I’ve seen Ricci take on. She knocked it right out of the park. Unfortunately, 1993 was also the year her parents split. She hasn’t talked to her father since. Wear the grudge like a crown, I suppose.
Ricci’s next feature film was THE CEMETERY CLUB. Sounds like the perfect party movie for Halloween, right? Groovy dancing skeletons, cookie-baking mummies, pin-trading zombies? But no. It’s just a story about three widowed women, who are all friends thanks to their mutual losses and zzzZZZzzzz. Snore. Don’t give a film an ostentatious title like CEMETERY CLUB and then make it suck. C’mon, Hollwood. Next!
CASPER (1995) is a tough one to defend, since it was the beginning of remaking old cartoons into CGI-showcases with lousy scripting. On the one hand, it’s a touching motion picture that deals with death, and it’s a good way to get kids to understand the concept of dealing with loss. On the other hand, it teaches you that once you’re dead, you get nicknamed by your most embarrassing attribute (Stinky, Fatso, Stretch). Have a history with bulimia? Welcome, Pukey. That’s your name, for now and for the rest of eternity. That actually really bothered me as a youngster. In the old cartoons, Casper wasn’t associated with the other ghosts. There were just ghosts, in the background, scaring the shit out of people. So why add these one-dimensional characters? So dumb kids like me could laugh at Fatso saying stuff like “This sucks” as his ghost-body’s being vacuumed, that’s why. Which reminds me, the foul language in this movie most likely would not be accepted in a PG-rated film today. Terms like “short-shit” and “bitch” are casually thrown around, which are details you’d only notice once you’ve grown a beard in your pants. While, Christina’s role in CASPER is from special, I remember practically being obsessed with this movie as a kid, or more specifically, her.
After that, she nabbed a bunch of roles in the next few years, scattered from PG all the way over to R territory. For some reason she did THAT DARN CAT (you know, the one where the cat wore sunglasses on the poster?) while simultaneously doing THE ICE STORM where she banged Elijah Wood. She was critically acclaimed for three movies in 1998: BUFFALO ‘66, PECKER, and THE OPPOSITE OF SEX. Christina immediately took advantage of the fact that she was no longer a minor. She played a teenage hooker in a film only as good as it’s title, I WOKE UP EARLY THE DAY I DIED (suck much?), and also blessed films like 200 CIGARETTES, DESERT BLUE, and FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS with her presence. After a few years of some hits, and several flops, Ricci needed a boost.
Lucky for her, the picky Tim Burton snatched her up for a role in SLEEPY HOLLOW, a movie based on the tale of Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) and his investigation of the Headless Horseman. Christina plays Katrina Van Tassel, a native of Sleepy Hollow, New York who accompanies Ichabod on his journey, but mostly hypnotizes us with her ginormous eyes. I feel like Tim Burton was aiming to put “The Headless Horseman” at the same level as movie monsters like Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein, etc. If that were the case, I’d say he didn’t do a bad job. I wind up watching this movie every year on Halloween, and it’s always enjoyable. If you have to give a face to the Headless Horseman, Christopher Walken is a genius way to go. He’s creepy as hell. Christina was the counter-balance to that. She was mainly there to look pretty and bare some 18th century dress cleavage. Which reminds me, soon after this, Christina’s baby fat was coming back to haunt her, which no one in their right mind should have any problem with.
Not unless they’re lactose intolerant.
Following the success of SLEEPY HOLLOW, Ricci stuck to the thriller and horror genre for a while after, with one problem: they were all pretty terrible movies. Except for MONSTER and PUMPKIN (which ironically are not Halloween films). She was kind of hidden away in the shadows until horror pioneer Wes Craven came knocking at her door. I was one of those people who saw CURSED in 2004 and thought it was complete crap. Looking back, I feel I might have been too harsh. Oh, it’s bad, but with all the crappy werewolf movies to come out since, it levels out to a pretty mediocre film. I would much rather watch CURSED than BEASTLY or “Teen Wolf” on MTV. At least it’s sticking to the horror aspect of the idea killer dog-beasts. In it, Christina plays an assistant to Craig Kilborn on “The Late Late Show”. Does anyone remember Craig Kilborn? Anyone?.. Bueller?
She’s accompanied by Mark Zuckerberg himself, Jesse Eisenberg, with whom she gets into a bad car wreck, which leads to the two of them getting bit by a werewolf, and lots of heavy breathing ensues. It also features Shannon Elizabeth, Judy Greer, Portia de Rossi, and even Scott Baio as himself (a.k.a. an actor who can’t get booked). I think with a cast like that, and it’s cheesy special effects, CURSED isn’t the worst werewolf-based horror movie you could lay eyes on.
Speaking of things that aren’t so bad to lay eyes on, Christina Ricci has always been gifted with a unique aura of beauty and that isn’t commonly seen these days as much as in the past. Obviously, I’ve skipped a bunch of easily mentionable stuff. Like PENELOPE, where she plays a girl with a pig-nose straight outta that episode of “The Twilight Zone”. Or BLACK SNAKE MOAN, in which she actually gives a pretty damn good perfomance as Sam Jackson's horny, chained up Bible slave. But, honestly, I’d just rather cut to the chase and show you what she looks like now, before exploring her most recent activities. So let’s get a load of Christina Ricci from 2012…
What I fail to comprehend is that Christina Ricci spent over a decade looking sixteen, and now she’s finally 24-years-old. Okay, actually she’s 32, but I doubt she’ll look it for at least another 10 years. That's her attending Elle's fashion week event in September, and she does indeed look fashionable. She still has one of the most petite schnozes in the biz, and is, in my opinion, more stunning than ever! Let’s have a looksie at some of Christina’s other appearances this past year…
I think Wednesday just made me altogether ooky in my jeans. The only thing I would ask of this woman is to pick up an eclair or something! If she gets any thinner, she’s gonna wind up like that living Anime Girl. Speaking of living Anime girls, we all know Christina tried her hand at the role of Trixie in the Wachowski Brothers' interpretation of SPEED RACER. For what it was (essentially an overhyped SCOTT PILGRIM), I thought the movie was better than most movies based on an old animated program, and I thought Christina as Trixie was downright brilliant casting.
Whatever was going through her mind when she signed on to BUCKY LARSON: BORN TO BE A STAR is beyond me. And she hasn’t seemed to have learned much about the importance of reputation by signing on to the sure-to-be-classic SMURFS 2.
So if there's one message I'd like to get out to Christina Ricci, it's "YOU CAN DO BETTER. I’ve seen it. We’ve all seen it. And now that you’re looking like walking boner medicine, I think you could break back into some good, high-profile projects again". Of course, this might be more of Hollywood’s slip-up than hers. She had already returned with a 14-episode run of her air-flight drama “Pan Am”, which despite its international success, has already been canceled by ABC. I still believe she can rediscover the same strive for success she seemed to have as an 8-years-old. She’s got plenty of time ahead of her to make it happen, and I think her Wednesday Addams sense of eeriness is something our cookie-cutter film industry could use at these desperate times. I’ll never forget you, Christina Ricci. You’re too weird.