The Addams Family (film)

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The Addams Family
The Addams Family.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Produced by Scott Rudin
Bonnie Arnold
Written by Caroline Thompson
Larry Wilson
Based on
Starring Anjelica Huston
Raúl Juliá
Christopher Lloyd
Music by Marc Shaiman
Cinematography Owen Roizman
Edited by Dede Allen
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • November 22, 1991 (1991-11-22)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $38 million
Box office $191,502,246

The Addams Family is a 1991 American fantasy comedy film based on the characters from the cartoon of the same name created by cartoonist Charles Addams. [1]

The movie was originally developed at Orion Pictures (which at the time owned the rights to the television series on which the film was based due to its ownership of the Filmways library and later quietly relaunched by MGM in September 11, 2014). But due to the studio's financial problems, Paramount Pictures stepped in to complete the film and handled North American distribution, with Orion retaining the international rights (these rights now belong to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer through their purchase of Orion). The film debuted in Los Angeles on November 16, 1991. It opened internationally on November 22, 1991, on the same day as An American Tail: Fievel Goes West and Beauty and the Beast and received positive reviews. It was followed by a sequel, Addams Family Values, two years later.


Gomez Addams (Raúl Juliá) laments the 25-year absence of his brother Fester, who disappeared after the two had a falling-out. Gomez spends each morning hitting golf balls off the roof, often breaking the windows of his neighbor, Judge George Womack (Paul Benedict). Gomez's lawyer Tully Alford (Dan Hedaya) owes money to loan shark Abigail Craven (Elizabeth Wilson) and notices that her son Gordon (Christopher Lloyd) closely resembles Fester. Tully proposes that Gordon pose as Fester to infiltrate the Addams household and find the hidden vault where they keep their vast riches. Tully and his wife Margaret (Dana Ivey) attend a séance at the Addams home led by Grandmama (Judith Malina), in which the family tries to contact Fester's spirit. Gordon arrives, posing as Fester, while Abigail poses as psychiatrist Dr. Pinder-Schloss and tells the family that Fester had been lost in the Bermuda Triangle for the past 25 years.

Gomez, overjoyed to have Fester back, takes him to the family vault to view home movies from their childhood. Gordon learns the reason for the brothers' falling-out: Gomez was jealous of Fester's success with women, and wooed the conjoined twins Flora and Fauna Amore away from him out of envy. Gomez starts to suspect that "Fester" is an impostor when he is unable to recall important details about their past. Gordon attempts to return to the vault, but is unable to get past a booby trap. Gomez's wife Morticia (Anjelica Huston) reminds "Fester" of the importance of family amongst the Addamses and of their vengeance against those who cross them. Fearing that the family is getting wise to their con, Abigail (under the guise of Dr. Pinder-Schloss) convinces Gomez that his suspicions are due to displacement.

Gordon grows closer to the Addams family, particularly the children Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman), whom he helps to prepare a swordplay sequence for a school play, which turns out to be disastrous, when the imitation blood, sprays from both of the children's clothes, into the audience, resulting in only the members of the Addams family, applauding their children, while the other members of audience remain shocked and muted, causing the children to be expelled from school. The Addamses throw a large party with their extended family and friends to celebrate Fester's return, during which Abigail plans to break into the vault. Wednesday overhears Abigail and Gordon discussing their scheme, and escapes them by hiding in the family cemetery. At the party, Tully learns from the Amore twins that Fester, as the eldest brother, is the executor of the Addams estate and therefore technically owns the entire property. With the help of Judge Womack, Tully procures a restraining order against the family banning them from the estate and ordering them to move out. Meanwhile at the party, Margaret meets cousin Itt, who immediately falls in love with her. After realizing that Wednesday is missing, the family goes out in search of her, returning to find themselves locked out of the property by Tully. Gomez attempts to fight the order in court, but Judge Womack rules against him out of spite and gleefully returns the golf balls that have broken his windows.

While Abigail, Gordon and Tully try repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get past the booby trap blocking access to the vault, the Addams family is forced to move into a motel and find jobs. Morticia tries being a preschool teacher, Wednesday and Pugsley sell toxic lemonade, and Thing (Christopher Hart's hand) becomes a courier. Gomez, despondent, sinks into depression and lethargy.

Worried about the future of her children and her husband's mental state, Morticia returns to the Addams home to speak to Fester and is captured by Abigail and Tully, who torture her in an attempt to learn how to access the vault. Thing observes this and informs Gomez, who gathers the family and rushes to Morticia's rescue. Abigail threatens Morticia's life if Gomez does not surrender the family fortune. Fed up with his mother's behavior and constant berating, Gordon turns against Abigail. Using a magical book which projects its contents into reality, he unleashes a hurricane in the house, which strikes his own head with lightning and launches Tully and Abigail out a window and into open graves dug for them by Wednesday and Pugsley, who proceed to bury them.

Seven months later, it is revealed to the viewers that Gordon has been Fester all along, having suffered amnesia after being lost in the Bermuda Triangle and turning up in Miami, where Abigail had taken him in. The lightning strike has restored his memory and he is enthusiastically welcomed back into the Addams household. Margaret and cousin Itt, who are now happily married, arrive to celebrate Halloween with the rest of the family. With the entire family together again, Morticia and Gomez observe the rest of the family playing a game of "Wake the Dead," during which Morticia reveals to Gomez that she's pregnant again.


Music [edit]

The soundtrack for The Addams Family was released on December 3, 1991, and features most of Marc Shaiman's film score. The complete version of "Mamushka" was cut from the film after a key audience demographic from test screenings complained the song brought the movie to a stand-still.[2]

  1. "Deck the Halls & Main Titles"
  2. "Morning"
  3. "Seances & Swordfights"
  4. "Playmates"
  5. "Family Plotz"
  6. "Mooche"
  7. "Evening"
  8. "Party...For Me?"
  9. "Mamushka"
  10. "Thing Gets Work"
  11. "Fester Exposed"
  12. "Rescue"
  13. "Finale"

The film also features a video from rap artist MC Hammer, called the "Addams Groove".[3]

Video game[edit]

A game based on the film was released for various handheld and home computer platforms.


Box office[edit]

With a box office gross of $113,502,246 in the United States and a worldwide gross of $191,502,246, The Addams Family proved to be a financial success, as it eventually became the seventh highest grossing film of 1991.

Critical response [edit]

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives The Addams Family a 60% "fresh" rating based on reviews from 40 critics.[4][5][6]

Roger Ebert gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, saying it was mildly entertaining but did not add up to much.[7] Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader called the film a "collection of one-liners and not much more".[8] Critic Steve Crum wrote a positive review, saying that it was a perfect translation of the 1960s sitcom, and was just as "ghoulishly hilarious."[citation needed] Variety magazine wrote, "Despite inspired casting and nifty visual trappings, the eagerly awaited Addams Family figures a major disappointment."[9]

Accolades [edit]

The Addams Family was awarded Best Horror Film of the Year in 1991 by the Horror Hall of Fame. Carel Struycken appeared at the award ceremony to receive the award on behalf of the cast.[10] Huston was nominated for the 1991 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for her performance as Morticia. Additionally, the pinball machine based on the film, is the best-selling and the highest produced pinball machine of all time.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for achievement in costume design. (Ruth Myers)[11]

The film won a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song for the song "Addams Groove" by MC Hammer.

Production notes[edit]

Most of the movie was shot on Stage 3/8 at the Hollywood Center Studios in LA, the same studio where the original TV series was filmed.[12]

After the film's release, David Levy, the producer of the 1964 Addams Family TV show, filed a lawsuit against Paramount after the film's release. He claimed that many elements of the film were his original ideas and not part of Charles Addams's cartoons. These "trademarks" included the characters of Thing and Cousin Itt, Gomez's fencing expertise and toy trains, Morticia's sizzling bedroom talk and the passionate tangos danced by her and Gomez, Fester's lightbulb trick and Lurch's harpsichord playing. The lawsuit was later settled out of court.

The Making of The Addams Family[edit]

A documentary, "The Making of The Addams Family", was produced to promote the film in 1991.

In a 2012 interview, Sonnenfeld stated that he originally intended that it be unclear whether Fester really was an imposter or not, but all the other actors rebelled and chose 10-year-old Christina Ricci to speak on their behalf, who "gave this really impassioned plea that Fester shouldn't be an imposter.... so we ended up totally changing that plot point to make the actors happy. And they were right — it was the better way to go."[13]

Blu-ray and DVD[edit]

The movie was released first time on Blu-ray in UK on October 2013. On 2006, "The Addams Family" and "Addams Family Values" was released on DVD in double feature in US.


  1. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (March 31, 1991). "The weird brood from Charles Addams cartoons and '60s TV is back in a big-name, $30-million movie". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  2. ^ Susan Vaughn (December 6, 1991). "Testing One, Two, Three. The teenager is always right -- How screen tests altered The Addams Family, Fatal Attraction, and Field of Dreams". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. 
  3. ^ The Addams Family (1991) - Soundtracks
  4. ^ "The Addams Family". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. 
  5. ^ Kenneth Turan (November 22, 1991). "'The Addams Family': Kooky, Spooky--Creaky". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  6. ^ Owen Gleiberman (November 29, 1991). "The Addams Family (1991)". Entertainment Weekly (Time Inc.). Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  7. ^ "The Addams Family". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  8. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "The Addams Family". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  9. ^ "The Addams Family". Variety. December 31, 1990. 
  10. ^ 3rd Annual Horror Hall of Fame Telecast, 1991
  11. ^ The Addams Family (1991) - Awards
  12. ^ The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations by Tony Reeves. The Titan Publishing Group. Pg.13 [1]
  13. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (27 April 2012). "Barry Sonnenfeld on Men In Black III, Working With Will Smith, and Time Travel". blog. Vulture. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 

External links[edit]