It's a family thing, and it won't quit They keep it together, y'all, that's it They're not ordinary, just strange Some say loco, insane in the brain But you know that you love 'em In a class by themselves, none below, none above 'em It ain't nothin' to be ashamed of So give love to the folks who go by the name of...
— Tag Team, "Addams Family (Whoomp!)" (from the Addams Family Values soundtrack)
Meet The Addams Family: father Gomez (Raul Julia), mother Morticia (Anjelica Huston), daughter Wednesday (Christina Ricci), son Pugsley (Jimmy Workman), butler Lurch (Carel Struycken), and Granny (Judith Malina; Darrined by Carol Kane for the sequel). The film series is based on the cartoons created by Charles Addams and the 1960sDom Comit spawned. The first film, released in 1991, focused on the family's search for Gomez's missing brother, Fester (Christopher Lloyd). Fester's return leads to a joyful reunion between the brothers. However, all is not as it seems and a scheming "mother" (Elizabeth Wilson), a money hungry lawyer (Dan Hedaya), and a plot to steal the family's fortune create complications and Hilarity Ensues.It was successful enough that a sequel, Addams Family Values, was released in 1993, which added a new child (Pubert) and a new love interest for Fester in the form of Debbie Jellinsky (Joan Cusack), the children's new nanny who drives a wedge between Fester and the rest of the family.A third movie starring the Family, Addams Family Reunion, was released direct-to-video in 1998 with an (almost) all-new cast. Gomez learns his visiting grandparents are suffering from "Waltzheimer's Disease," a Soap Opera Disease that makes one "normal," and as a result tries to organize a family reunion to find a cure. Unfortunately, the company in charge of arranging it misspells the family name "Adams." Hilarity Ensues. Serving as a Pilot Movie for the then-upcoming The New Addams Family series , it is not related to the prior two films.After plans for a stop-motion adaptation fell through (featuring the involvement of Tim Burton, whose The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride were to have served as inspiration), Variety reported that an animated reboot is finally in the works, courtesy of MGM.
Adorkable: Fester, especially in Values when he's completely head over heels for Debbie.
All Part of the Show: When Wednesday goes Off the Rails during the Thanksgiving play in Addams Family Values, the audience doesn't get that she's off-script until well after the set is on fire. The fact that they clearly do intend to burn Amanda alive at least gets her parents moving.
Alternative Character Interpretation: In-Universe. In the first movie, when Morticia is working as a kindergarten teacher she reads Hansel & Gretel to her class, depicting Hansel and Gretel as cold-blooded killers and the witch as an innocent victim. The kids are not pleased by this Downer Ending — that, or Morticia asking the kids to imagine what being burned alive felt like — and break down in tears.
Ancient Tradition: The movie treats the Mamushka as one of these, taught to them by Cossack cousins so long ago they no longer remember when. And since Gomez explicitly states that they danced the Mamushka while Nero fiddled, that means the Addams family has been around for at least nineteen centuries, and has documented enough of their family history to know exactly what they were doing the night of July 19, 0064. That's how old that traditional dance is.
It also foreshadows why Gordon can dance it so well; he is Fester.
Since the Cossacks didn't emerge until the 14th century at the earliest — and since it's the Addams family — probably a bit of unintentional Unreliable Narrator in there.
And Your Little Dog Too: In the second movie when Fester escapes from Debbie's mansion with Thing, we have this gem:
In the first movie, Morticia compliments the man stretching her on the rack (who is sweating over the evil deed) as "having done this before". She also believes that she and the female antagonist could have been good friends were it not for the current unpleasantness.
The second film has the following exchanges between Morticia and Debbie:
Morticia: You have enslaved him. You have placed Fester under some strange sexual spell. I respect that.
Morticia: You have gone too far. You have married Fester. You have destroyed his spirit. You have taken him from us. All that I could forgive. But Debbie?
Morticia(reproachfully, eyeing the decor): Pastels?
Artistic License - History: Parodied with the camp counselor's Thanksgiving pageant. Wednesday decides to make it... a little more accurate. (Not only in spirit, but in fact. Pocahontas was a Powhatan, not a Chippewa, and was not present at the first Thanksgiving. The Chippewa are native to the Midwest, and would not have been present either. Also, by the first Thanksgiving, Pocahontas was married to Englishman John Rolfe and living in England. She would not have been betrothed to a member of her tribe.)
Gomez manages to catch a thrown butter knife in his teeth in the same film.
The first film also had the Mamushka, a traditional dance performed by Gomez and Fester that involves them juggling knives between each other. It ends with Gomez hurling every knife directly at his brother, who catches them with his bare hands, the final one in his mouth like a sword swallower.
Becoming the Mask: Played with in the first film, as the mask that the amnesiac Gordon became was that of his actual real identity of Uncle Fester.
Berserk Button: A very subtle one with Pugsley in the second film. Pugsley almost never gets angry, but he clearly takes offense when Amanda refers to the Addams' as circus people. (Keep in mind, she's probably thinking "freak show", he's probably thinking "harmless happy clown".)
Big Damn Heroes: Baby Pubert in Addams Family Values. He makes his way through the house via a chain reaction of events and manipulates the wires just as Debbie throws the switch, causing her to be incinerated.
Addams Family Values gives us Debbie, Uncle Fester's love interest, plus Amanda Buckman and the Camp Chippewah counselors, who are also Politically Incorrect Villains to boot.
Black Widow: Debbie Jellinsky from Values is one of these. She gets her claws into Fester and marries him, but, Fester being one of the Addams clan, she doesn't quite succeed at the killing part.
She's been killing since childhood, and often gets rid of people who fail to meet her needs (usually money-related), starting with her parents, who she killed for not giving her a Ballerina Barbie for her birthday.
Of course, this being the Addams Family, once everyone understands the depths of her issues they all start to really empathize with her and regret not really getting to know her. She is buried in a place of honor in the family cemetery, with a headstone that proclaims her an Addams.
Book Ends: The beginning and ending of the first movie are both based on one of Charles Addams' original comics in the New Yorker (specifically the opening with the family pouring boiling oil on Christmas carolers and the part at the end where Gomez is amazed to see Morticia knitting a onesie with tentacles, implying that she is pregnant). Doubles as a Mythology Gag.
Bowties Are Cool: Gomez sports some of the coolest bow ties ever to be committed to film.
Morticia:(straight-faced, taking garment bags out of a wardrobe and looking at tags) Uncle Knick-Knack's Winter Wardrobe... Uncle Knick-Knack's Summer Wardrobe... Uncle Knick-Knack...
Brick Joke: In the first movie we see the family motto, We Gladly Feast on Those Who Would Subdue Us. In the second movie, the school camp counselors try to subdue Wednesday and Pugsley, and are last seen being roasted on a spit by Wednesday's accomplices.
Brutal Honesty: In the second film, Wednesday and Pugsley are waiting at the hospital while Morticia gives birth. Another child with them tells an exaggerated Delivery Stork story, so Wednesday responds, complete with dramatic zoom:
Pugsley: Our parents are having a baby, too! Wednesday:They had sex.
Buried Alive: In the first film, the two antagonists land in open graves which Wednesday and Pugsley have somehow prepared in advance. The following exchange occurs:
Pugsley: Are they dead?
Wednesday: Does it matter?
The second film opening includes Wednesday and Grandmama burying a cat. When it meows, Wednesday shakes the box and shushes it.
Calvin Ball: "Wake The Dead" seems to be some variety of this.
Christmas Carolers: The family is preparing to drop boiling oil on some at start of the first film.
Comically Missing the Point: When Debbie's trying to seduce Fester, she talks about always wanting to meet a man who's "untouched, pure" like him. He replies "You'll meet him!"
The Comically Serious: While Wednesday's lines tend to be funny, a big aspect of the humor comes from her delivery of them with the same deadpan inflection.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: The "Harmony Hut" in the second film. It's a hut filled with posters of kittens, in which the Addams are forced to sit and watch upbeat Disney movies.
Creator Cameo: In a sense. Director Barry Sonnenfeld makes a cameo appearance in each film: The first sees him as a random passenger in the model train that Gomez later crashes, and the second casts him in a slightly larger role as Joel Glicker's Henpecked Husband father.
Dark Is Not Evil: Questionable. The movies specifically tried to invoke this trope too, with various people involved with the movies pointing out for all their dark, macabre nature and seemingly violent acts, the Addamses are in their way the ideal family... the parents are Happily Married, deeply in love after all these years with the fire of passion as bright as it ever was, the entire family is deeply devoted to one another's well-being and happiness, they're concerned about their friends (Morticia twice wishes she could befriend their enemies), and they give generously to charity. They're just... strange. However, given the degree to which the movies were Darker and Edgier than the original live action series, it arguably failed to do this, taking their macabre trappings to the point the Addamses came off as more Affably Evil, particularly in Addams Family Values.
Darker and Edgier: The films paint the characters as much more macabre than the TV show (although still nicer than in the original magazine cartoons), thanks to more relaxed standards on what is acceptable as humor.
A good example is Pugsley's name. Originally, most of the Addams clan didn't have first names, but when the TV show was being produced, they went to Charles Addams to name them. His first choice for the boy's name? Pubert!
Another is that in the series they didn't kill anyone, but in the movies they kill at least four people (the three villains and the stripper at Fester's bachelor party) and don't seem to care.
In fairness, everyone at the bachelor party is very visibly distraught about the stripper... for, like, a second.
Evil Versus Evil: The movies would become a lot more awkward if anyone (including the villains) seriously protested the Addams' pastimes.
Face Framed in Shadow: In the films, Morticia's face is constantly shadowed, no matter the ambient lighting, with the only bright spot being around her eyes. It especially stands out when she's with other cast members, who are normally lit.
From Values, after Pubert becomes blonde and rosy cheeked. Grandmama is explaining that this change can become permanent. Of course, this IS the Addams we're talking about, so it's a subversion.
Grandmama: We're talking dimples!
Gomez: NOT in this house!
Also, he could become a lawyer, an orthodontist, or even... President.
Also, Wednesday's contribution to the horror story at camp.
Wednesday: And so, the next night, the ghost returned to the haunted cabin, and he said to the campers — "None of you really believe in me, so I'll have to prove my power." And the next morning, when the campers woke up... all of their old noses had grown back. *Cue screams and a smirking Wednesday*
Flat "What.": Christopher Lloyd gets two good ones in as Fester in the first film. The first occurs when he and Gomez are watching their old home moviesnote Fester is trying desperately to not have his cover blown, so he points out Flora and Fauna Amor — whose picture he'd seen in his room — to which Gomez responds by asking for his forgiveness, and the second happens while Fester is talking with Abigail Craven about how the whole family suspects him note Abigail informs Fester she can fix this through her "Dr. Pinder-Schloss" guise.
"This is my costume. I'm a homicidal maniac. They look just like everyone else."
Funny Background Event: In Values, when Wednesday and Joel have their "love at first sight" moment, Pugsley is trying to hang himself in the background to try to get out staying at the camp. Doubles as pretty literal Gallows Humor.
Genius Loci: As pointed out above in the "eldritch location" trope
Genre Blind: Debbie in spades. After failing to kill Fester through electrocution, she wraps up a bomb as a "present"... and he actually guesses what it is before brushing it off with "No, no — wait for my birthday!"
Getting Crap Past the Radar: In-Universe example. In Family Values, during the Thanksgiving play, Pugsley is dressed up as a turkey for a musical number. His lines in the song consist of saying "Eat Me" twice. Amanda's parents, who are in the front row, react slightly.
Family Values in general is rather direct about sex, such as Wednesday bluntly telling a young girl who believes in the Delivery Stork where babies really come from, the fact that Fester watches Gomez and Morticia having sex through keyholes, and offering Thing as a way to stave off loneliness.
The first film has a scene at the beginning of a coo-coo clock of the Addams mansion with moving mannequins of the family. The mannequin of Gomez is apparently kissing the mannequin of Morticia on her breasts.
Good Is Not Nice: The most flagrant example being the camp counselors from Values, Gary and Becky. Not for the way they treat Wednesday and Pugsley (that is, until they force them to watch saccharine movies), but the way they heavily favor the rich, white, blonde kids over the minority campers, even casting the latter group as the "savage" Native Americans in Gary's play. Becky can't even pronounce two of their names, Consuela and Jamal.
In introducing the play, Gary refers to the two factions as white meat and dark meat.
Heroic BSOD: Gomez ends up in one in the first movie after losing the family home and fortune, and apparently being betrayed by Fester/Gordon. Thing manages to snap him out of it with a three word message: MORTICIA IN DANGER.
He gets one in the second movie (complete with "Take me! Take me!") when informed that his possessed baby might one day grow up to be president.
High-Pressure Blood: Parodied during the play with Wednesday and Pugsley; when they fight each other as part of the play, blood sprays out whenever they make a cut, covering the audience in it.
Jumping Out of a Cake: Gruesome example from the second film. Gomez tries to have this done at Fester's bachelor party.
Gomez: [peers into cake] ...that poor girl. Lurch, was she in there before you baked? Lurch: [growls contritely] [beat] Gomez: C'est la vie![everyone laughs]
Just for Pun: About half the times that anyone talks to Thing, they make some sort of hand-related pun.
Jump Scare: Thing bursting out of Debbie's grave and grabbing the boy's leg at the end of the second could count as one.
Kick the Dog: The judge from earlier in the movie ruling in favor of Gordon/Fester as owner of the Addams property "with no small amount of personal satisfaction", except for one exception — Gomez's bucket of golf balls, which he dumps out in front of him.
Literal-Minded: In the first film, at the elementary school talent show, Margaret Alford looks upon her son, dressed as an elf, and remarks that "I could just EAT you alive!" Morticia's response?
Morticia: Oh, no, Margaret! Too young!
Also in Values, when Debbie Jillinsky first meets Gomez:
Debbie: My, he's a real ladykiller! Gomez: Acquitted!
Look Ma, No Plane!: In the climax of Addams Family Values, the baby somehow gets catapulted high enough to come eye-to-eye with a commuter plane...specifically, the one that's currently flying the Alpha Bitch and her family home from the disaster that was summer camp.
Mundane Made Awesome: Quite a bit of "normal" things get a unique twist, but Gomez's train set takes the cake.
Murder by Cremation: For his brother's wedding Gomez orders a huge cake with a stripper inside. However, when the cake is delivered, it turns out that the unwitting butler put the girl inside before he put it into the oven.
Nigh-Invulnerability: Fester is immune to fatal amounts of electricity and mansion-destroying explosions. He does seem worried by bullets, which makes it even weirder that Debbie would decide on the electric chair to finish him off when that method didn't succeed the first time.
Seems to apply to all the family to some degree. Pugsley and Wednesday spend much of the first movie playing fatal games with each other, involving poison, knives, even electric chairs. Wednesday even explicitly says the latter is supposed to kill Pugsley, and that this particular game is called "Is There a God?"
Morticia, going through Fester's luggage in the first movie, notes that he brought cyanide and teasingly chides him "As if we'd run out." The delivery insinuates they use it as a condiment.
Nobody Calls Me Chicken: In Values, Amanda goads Wednesday into adding to the ghost story by insinuating she's not up to it. Wednesday's creative spin makes them wish they hadn't.
No Body Left Behind: Debbie is electrocuted to ashes in Addams Family Values. All is left are her shoes and credit cards.
Then whose hand is it that rises from her grave to grab Joel's ankle at the end of the film?
Noodle Incident: Reunion mentions, on two separate occasions, an attack dog named Spot that the Addamses owned at one point, who died in an incident with a Girl Scout troop. Nothing is said in regards to what actually happened to him, though at one point the dog — now stuffed — is seen, still snarling.
Obviously Evil: Debbie's successful crime spree tugs at Willing Suspension of Disbelief when she gets to Fester. She couldn't look more guilty if she tried. Putting aside that the Addams see this as normal, the authorities would have noticed such oddities as ordering a hearse prior to the victim's death. Wednesday even lampshades this towards the end. Not to mention this noticeable line.
"Just a single, I will be a widow then."
Oedipus Complex: In Values, Gomez pulls out a magazine from Fester's bed, opens to one of the centerfolds, and the two say together "Mom!".
Overly-Long Gag: In the first film, Gomez begins to suspect that "Fester" is not his real brother ( He is, but he has amnesia and thinks that he's only pretending to be). He begins to rant for several minutes, listing various synonyms for a fraud. Cut to "Fester" bonding with Wednesday & Pugsley for several minutes. Cut back to Gomez still ranting, who is finally snapped out of it by Fester's caretaker.
Perky Goth: Gomez, depending on your definition of "goth". Margaret Alford is a sort-of subversion. After leaving her husband for Cousin Itt she becomes noticeably perkier and is rather grateful to join the Addams clan. She doesn't change her wardrobe and is usually seen wearing bright colors like pink, yet the Addams don't mind. She does, however, carry around her new baby in a coffin-shaped carriage, dresses in typical Addams attire (that is, for a funeral) to Fester's wedding, and hires a nanny named "Dementia" who looks like a female version of Fester.
Portal Book: The books in the Addams' library are an inversion: people can't go in (as far as we know), but the stories in the book manifest in the real world when opened (e.g. The Sun Also Rises creates sunlight).
Pretty in Mink: In Values Gomez and Mortica are at a fancy restaurant where several ladies in the background are wearing fur wraps.
Reality Is Unrealistic: About the only thing that you can't actually do in the Mamuska from the first film is the thrown sword-swallow. Everything else is actually something you can do if you can juggle.
Redemption Equals Death: Both played with and averted in Family Values. Fester treated his Ax-Crazy wife with nothing but love and respect, but she's so insane she simply keeps going with her plan to kill him, not realizing she actually has someone who cares. Fester is perfectly willing to die for whatever perceived crimes he's committed. Then, when she actually dies, she's just... a pile of dust. No redemption there.
Rube Goldberg Device: Pubert's trip through the house to save his family in the second movie is an unintentional one (i.e. not set up beforehand, just a lot of random occurrences that fit together in a Goldbergian manner).
Sarcasm Mode: You could think that the entire Addams Family had gone into this hardcore when they're seeming to humor the ranting Debbie. Actually, considering their previous behavior, they're probably sincerely empathizing with her.
Screaming Birth: Averted during Pubert's birth in Addams Family Values; all Morticia emits are a few barely audible grunts. Totally justified, however, when you consider their sex life.
Seriously, who didn't burst out laughing at Morticia's first line in that movie?
Morticia: Marvelous news. I'm going to have a baby. (Beat) Right now. (Cut to Morticia being rushed through the hospital.)
Then there's the bit during labor when Gomez asks Morticia if she's in unbearable, inhuman pain. She smiles coyly and says "Oui", bringing on Gomez's usual kissing response. The doctor has to remind them that there's a baby to deliver.
Shout-Out: Among others, there's the fact that every close-up of Morticia has the same lighting as Bela Lugosi's take on Dracula, with a horizontal line of light across the eyes.
Silent Snarker: Lurch; the guy's slightest facial movement speaks volumes.
Slasher Smile: Wednesday gives the audience a rather disturbing one in Addams Family Values.
Something Else Also Rises: A pretty hilarious version occurs in the movie. Gomez and Morticia are sitting in the graveyard and, as per usual, things get romantic between them. Cut to shots of the various, elaborate gravestones of deceased Addamses that manage to become this trope.
Suppressed Mammaries: Christina Ricci had her breasts tied down when she played Wednesday in the movies. Puberty did not miss her. In what was almost assuredly a reference to this fact, her first scene in Now And Then has her duct taping her breasts down after complaining about them getting bigger.
Tempting Fate: In Values Joel has the horrible idea to tell Wednesday she wouldn't be able to scare to death her future husbands. Guess what happens a few moments later?
Terrible Interviewees Montage: Inverted in the second movie; it's not the nanny interviewees who are terrible, it's the children. And while the one who gets the job seems perfect, she's really the worst.
That Poor Cat: At the start of Values, the kids and Grandma are burying the family cat in a shoebox. Wednesday has to shush it so that its cries do not ruin the solemnity of the occasion.
Theme Tune Cameo: In the waltz scene from Addams Family; the scene where Wednesday pulls a match from her headband and lights it in Addams Family Values, as well as the tango scene; and in countless portions of Addams Family Reunion.
Theme Tune Rap: Each has its own: The first film had "Addams Groove" by MC Hammer (complete with a nigh-Indecipherable Chorus), and Values featured "Addams Family (Whoomp!)" by Tag Team (an Addams-themed remake of "Whoomp! (There It Is)"; later "won" a Razzie Award for Worst Original Song).
Three Lines, No Waiting: Addams Family Values focused mainly on three separate plots: the Black Widow trying to kill off Uncle Fester, Gomez & Morticia looking after newborn Pubert, and Pugsley & Wednesday trying to cope with summer camp.
Tranquil Fury: Morticia while showing Fester the family graveyard and the family creed. She's suspicious of him as well and rather threateningly but eerily calmly states the family creed 'We would devour those who'd subdue us' and that 'As an Addams, you understand what that means, right?'
And then again when she sees how miserable her family is after getting kicked out of the house, and then walking off in the middle of the night to confront Fester
The Unintelligible: Lurch and Itt. Lampshaded when they have a conversation. Others seem to understand him too. Tully either can understand him asking to cut in or is very good at inferring his meaning, and Margaret almost immediately understands him well enough to not only be charmed by him while first dancing together, but to have a long, emotional discussion with him.
The Unsmile: Wednesday in the second movie. One of the most horrific examples of this trope ever, primarily due to the source of it, rather than the quality of the smile.
The Voiceless: In this version, Lurch never talks, only growls and grunts. For the record, the character was intended to be mute in the show as well, but Ted Cassidy ad-libbed the classic "You rang?" line and it was too funny to not capitalize.
What Happened to the Mouse?: In the movie, Tully and Margaret Alford's son, who appears in one scene (and in the credits as "Tully Jr.") but despite the fact that his mother runs off with Cousin Itt and that his father is buried, possibly alive, in the Addams' graveyard, he's never spoken of again, not even in the sequelAddams Family Values.
Also in Family Values, it's mentioned that the "Black Widow" has killed at least three husbands, but we only ever learn the fates of two of them.
One of Debbie's previous identities (as shown by the headshots kept on her wall) is Kathie Lee Gifford — so perhaps Monday Night Football has a different announcer in the Addams Family universe...
Who Even Needs a Brain?: In Addams Family Values Gomez and Fester are cheerfully reminiscing about all the (violent) pranks they pulled on each other as kids. Fester casually mentions that one time he waited til Gomez was asleep, then opened his his head and removed his brains. Gomez is surprised and sort of impressed by this revelation.
Why Won't You Die?: Debbie's attempts at killing Fester continuously fail, thus garnering this reaction.