The Addams Family – Fester Adams has been missing in the Bermuda Triangle for decades after an argument with his flamboyant brother, Gomez. Tully, Gomez’s lawyer, owes money to loan sharks and, failing to get his hands on the hidden fortune of Gomez, comes up with a plan to pass off Gordon, a huge thug and adopted son of his loan shark, as Fester so as to infiltrate the Addams family. At first Gomez is utterly convinced that Gordon is Fester, but with gaps in his story and Tully scheming in the background will Gomez be taken in by the subterfuge, or will further revelations rock his family?

The Addams Family (1991) – Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Rating: PG

Running Length: 99 mins

Starring: Raúl Juliá, Angelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd

Genre: Horror, Comedy


The macabre Addams Family have a long history tracing back to a highly influential comic strip by Charles Addams in the New Yorker, starting in 1938. With a very popular 1960s TV adaptation and a 1970s animated show, this first live action film (released in 1991) has a rich amount of source material to draw from and angles to choose. What ‘The Addams Family’ does is take kitsch comedy with larger than life characterisation provided by a stellar cast, all performing at their absolute best.

And what a cast. The late, great Raúl Juliá is the walking epitome of Gomez Addams. Playing the role with the energy of a man loving every second, his Gomez is flamboyant and passionate; exaggerated and suave. His wife, Morticia (superbly realised by Angelica Huston) is the dark and mysterious counterpoint to Gomez’s extravagant excess. A young Christina Ricci was made for the deadpan and morbidly obsessed Wednesday (who, for her efforts. is rewarded with a much large role with killer dialogue to suit in the later sequel) and Christopher Lloyd, well, goes full on Christopher Lloyd, making his Uncle Fester a whirling dervish of nerves, emotions, internal battles, and glorious realisations.

Everything about the big screen debut for ‘The Addams Family’ is designed to bring to the forefront the gothic and yet full of life appeal of its titular stars. Director Sonnenfeld (best known for the equally vivacious Men In Black franchise) makes sure that the cinematography plays to the quirky strengths of the script: such as always having the black, alluring figure of Morticia in shade except for her eyes, and throwing in all the bent camera angles and zoom-ins possible to capture every possible nuance from the fabulous performances of the cast. The dialogue delights in taking uptight ‘normal’ people and rubbing them against the dark eccentricity of the Addams’ and watching the sparks of snappy one-liners zap out.

It could be argued that ‘The Addams Family’ movie is too over the top and a little light on plot. In the hands of lesser performers, a less witty script or a less confident director then this could have fallen over itself. But with all the elements in fine-tuned balance and there always being something to enjoy on screen, this movie is a triumph of showcasing the uniquely counter-culture and yet family-centric phenomenon that is The Addams Family.


As the film opens, the shot pans out starting from a zoom focused on an ornate cuckoo clock. Clockwork adult male and female figures come out and on the ‘bongs’ the man leans forward into the woman’s bosom and back again as a kissing noise is heard. In the background to the side there appears to be a young boy pulling on a rope whilst a young girl is hanged (although this is very difficult to make out).

A young girl fires a crossbow at a young boy who is holding an apple in his mouth. The camera cuts as she fires and a thud is heard. This isn’t mentioned again and the boy is shown to be fine but it could be imitable.

A man talks about his love for his wife. He says, “I would die for her. I would kill for her. Either way, what bliss.” Later, a woman is lying on a bed and talking to her husband. She says, “Last night you were unhinged, like some desperate howling demon. You scared me. Do it again”.

Gomez hits golf balls off of his roof. One such ball hits an animal off screen and a squawk is heard.

Two young children hold a metal antenna during a thunder storm and laugh, trying to get hit by lighting.

A man threatens another with a large smile on his face. By sheer strength he lifts the man up by his neck and rotates him against a wall until he is upside down. The other man is scared although this is played like a comedic scene.

“Entrails” are offered as a party snack rather than the usual “entrés”. The group of characters start to perform a séance and invite the subject of their gathering to knock to announce its presence. A loud knock rings out over the table making the attendees jump and tense up. More knocks follow until the presence is made known.

Wednesday often carries around a headless doll. At one point she proffers it for a kiss during bedtime.

Several times throughout the movie various characters throw sharp objects such as swords and knives. These often barely miss people and stick into walls, doors, or the floor.

Plates of food made of some kind of eel like animal are delivered. The diner is advised to ‘start with the eyes’.

Children steal a stop sign as a game. In the background sounds of a crash can be heard.

Gomez tells Fester that he has smoked since age 5 as, “mother insisted”.

During a charity auction a man passionately kisses a woman’s arm. He kisses higher and higher until the camera cuts away and a loud, excited moan is heard whilst shocked attendees look on. The scene cuts a second later.

Characters walk through a family graveyard and the causes of death are verbally given as, “firing squad; torn limb from limb by wild dogs; buried alive..”. This is delivered with a wry deadpan and no-one is upset by the descriptions.

Wednesday takes to school a picture of her hero, which is distant relation that was ‘burned as a witch’. The picture is briefly shown and is a typical child’s picture quality but shows a woman surrounded by fire.

During a school function, Wednesday and Pugsley enact a scene from a Shakespeare play. They have rigged up prosthetics so that when hit by a sword, fake blood gushes out and sprays the audience. A wrist is slashed, an ‘arm’ is cut off, and a throat is slashed. Wednesday turns and the blood spray covers the faces for those watching. When the scene is over everyone is shocked except for the Addams family members who stand up and raucously applaud.

When talking about the history of the Mamushka dance, Gomez says that the Addams’ danced the dance for Jack The Ripper.

Morticia in forced to take a job and chooses to teach at a pre-school. She is reading a story and says that a witch is forced into an oven by children. She then says to the toddlers, “What do you think THAT feels like?” The children start to cry.

Two characters are blasted out of a window and land face down in open coffins which are within open graves. The lids slam shut and the characters are presumably dead.


Taken literally there is a lot of potential unsuitable content, given that a large volume of the humour and setting comes from references to violence and death. However, the movie always delivers this with a knowing wink. Indeed, unlike other characters in the movie, the Addams’ are  the epitome of a happy and functional family. Gomez and Morticia are loving parents, Pudsley and Wednesday play in each other’s company, and the whole family is generous and supportive of each other. And of course it is the Halloween-esque gothic nature of The Addams Family that makes them so appealing. However due to some dark imagery and dialogue we would recommend that The Addams Family movie is not suitable for children under 7.

  • Violence: 2/5 (some threatening behaviour and dangerous activity)
  • Emotional Distress: 1/5 (Gomez is hurt by the loss of Fester and upset when, returned, he is not who he appears to be)
  • Fear Factor: 1/5 (Thing, the disembodies hand, delights in scaring people. There are a couple of mild jump scares)
  • Sexual Content: 2/5 (Gomez and Morticia are very passionate and clearly adore each other. On several occasions Gomez will take Morticia’s arm and kiss it up and down. During the auction an amorous moan is heard off camera and people look shocked)
  • Bad Language: 0/5
  • Dialogue: 4/5 (most of the jokes revolve around death in some form or another. One character tells another that a relation was ‘very good with children’ to which another responds that ‘nothing was proven’.
  • Other Notes: Deals with themes of counter culture, subverting the norm, finding out who you are, fraud and theft, dealing with bullying parental figures, and dealing with how to cope with missing family members.

Words by Mike Record

Addams Family the an Evilution A180

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