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The Addams Family is a 1991 American supernatural dark comedy film based on the characters from the cartoon of the same name created by cartoonist Charles Addams.[1] The film was originally developed at Orion Pictures (which, at the time, owned the rights to the television series on which the film was based). But due to the studio's financial problems, Paramount Pictures stepped in to complete the film and handled North American distribution; Orion retained the international rights, though these rights now belong to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer through their purchase of Orion.

The Addams Family
The Addams Family.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Produced by Scott Rudin
Written by
Based on The Addams Family
by Charles Addams
Music by Marc Shaiman
Cinematography Owen Roizman
Edited by Dede Allen
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
(North America and Latin America)
Orion Pictures
(International, 1991-1997)
(International, 1997-current)
Release date
  • November 22, 1991 (1991-11-22)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million
Box office $191.5 million

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 generally positive reviews. Anjelica Huston was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance as Morticia Addams; Raúl Juliá as Gomez Addams, Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams, and Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester were also well received. It was commercially successful, making back several times its operating budget, and was followed by a sequel, Addams Family Values, two years later.



Gomez Addams laments the 25-year absence of his brother Fester, who disappeared after the two had a falling-out. Gomez's lawyer Tully Alford owes money to loan shark and con artist Abigail Craven, and notices that her son Gordon 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 attend a séance at the Addams home led by Grandmama in which the family tries to contact Fester's spirit. Gordon arrives, posing as Fester, while Abigail poses as a German psychiatrist named Dr. Greta 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 Amor 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 reminds "Fester" of the importance of family amongst the Addams 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 and Pugsley, whom he helps to prepare a swordplay sequence for a school play. The Addams 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. Tully learns that Fester, as the eldest brother, is the executor of the Addams estate and therefore technically owns the entire property. With the help of the Addamses' neighbor Judge George Womack, who Gomez has repeatedly angered by hitting golf balls into his house, Tully procures a restraining order against the family, banning them from the estate. Gomez attempts to fight the order in court, but Judge Womack rules against him out of spite.

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 her hand as a preschool teacher, Wednesday and Pugsley sell toxic lemonade, and Thing—the family's animate disembodied hand—becomes a courier. Gomez, despondent, sinks into depression and lethargy.

Morticia returns to the Addams home to confront 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 using Morse code, 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 of a window and into open graves dug for them by Wednesday and Pugsley.

Gordon turns out to actually have 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 on Halloween. With the family whole again, Morticia informs Gomez that she is pregnant.




Anjelica Huston said she based aspects of her performance on her friend Jerry Hall to give the character more warmth. Huston said she would have expected the role to go to Cher but was a longtime fan of Morticia.[2]


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."[3]


Most of the film was shot on Stage 3/8 at the Hollywood Center Studios in LA, the same studio where the original TV series was filmed.[4]

Special effectsEdit

Makeup and animatronic effects for the film were handled by Tony Gardner (designer) and his company Alterian, Inc.


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 standstill.[5]


Box officeEdit

The Addams Family grossed $113,502,246 in the United States and $191,502,246 worldwide. The film's budget was $30 million.[6]

Critical response Edit

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives The Addams Family a 60% "fresh" rating based on reviews from 40 critics.[7][8][9] Roger Ebert gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, saying it was mildly entertaining but did not add up to much.[10] Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader called the film a "collection of one-liners and not much more".[11] Variety magazine wrote, "Despite inspired casting and nifty visual trappings, the eagerly awaited Addams Family figures a major disappointment."[12]

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.[13] Huston was nominated for the 1992 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for her performance as Morticia.[14] Additionally, the pinball machine based on the film is the best-selling and the highest produced pinball machine of all time.[15][16] The film was nominated for an Academy Award for achievement in costume design.[17] The film won a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song for the song "Addams Groove" by MC Hammer.


After the film's release, David Levy, the producer of the 1964 Addams Family TV series, filed a lawsuit against Paramount Pictures. Levy claimed that many elements of the film which were taken from the TV show were his original ideas and not part of the Charles Addams cartoons. These ideas 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.

Home mediaEdit

The film was released first time on Blu-ray in UK on October 2013. In 2006, The Addams Family and Addams Family Values were released together on DVD as a double feature in the US.[citation needed]

In other mediaEdit


A documentary, The Making of The Addams Family, was produced to promote the film in 1991.[18]

Video gameEdit

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

Pinball machineEdit

The Addams Family pinball machine was a commercial arcade pinball machine made by Bally/Williams and was released in March 1992. It became the best selling pinball machine of all time, with more than 20,000 units sold.[19]


  1. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (1991-03-31). "COVER STORY : Meet the New Addams Family : The weird brood from Charles Addams cartoons and '60s TV is back in a big-name, $30-million movie - latimes". Retrieved 2015-06-21. 
  2. ^ Silverman, Rosa (2014-11-16). "I based Morticia Addams on Jerry Hall, says Anjelica Huston". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-05-28. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ "Film location titles". Retrieved 2015-06-21. 
  5. ^ Vaughn, Susan (1991-12-06). "The teenager is always right". Retrieved 2015-06-21. 
  6. ^ "The Addams Family". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2015-07-05. 
  7. ^ "The Addams Family (1991)". Retrieved 2015-06-21. 
  8. ^ Turan, Kenneth (1991-11-22). "MOVIE REVIEWS : 'The Addams Family': Kooky, Spooky-Creaky - latimes". Retrieved 2015-06-21. 
  9. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (1991-11-29). "The Addams Family". Retrieved 2015-06-21. 
  10. ^ Boone, Steven (1991-11-22). "The Addams Family Movie Review (1991) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 2015-06-21. 
  11. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "The Addams Family". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  12. ^ Variety Staff (1990-12-31). "The Addams Family". Variety. Retrieved 2015-06-21. 
  13. ^ 3rd Annual Horror Hall of Fame Telecast, 1991
  14. ^ "Golden Globes, USA (1992)". IMDB. Retrieved 6 March 2017. 
  15. ^ Porges, Seth (August 4, 2008). "Top 8 Most Innovative Pinball Machines of All Time". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved June 9, 2015. 
  16. ^ Eschner, Kat (March 1, 2017). "Why Is This 25-Year-Old Pinball Machine Still the Most Popular?". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved August 3, 2017. 
  17. ^ "The Addams Family". 22 November 1991 – via IMDb. 
  18. ^ "The Making of 'The Addams Family' (1991)". IMDB. Retrieved 6 March 2017. 
  19. ^ Porges, Seth (August 4, 2008). "Top 8 Most Innovative Pinball Machines of All Time". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved June 9, 2015. 

External linksEdit