The Addams Family Movies Ranked from Worst to Best

Uncle Fester and Gomez Addams in The Addams Family (1991)

2. The Addams Family (1991)

“We would gladly feast on those who would subdue us.” These are not just pretty words, but the motto of The Addams Family. Former cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld set a new family standard in his screen directing debut. Every other line in the screenplay, written by Caroline Thompson, Larry Wilson, and with material from an uncredited Paul Rudnick, is a punchline. The other half are setups.

Anjelica Huston, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for the role, brings malice of forethought to every utterance as her performance as Morticia Addams. “Widows and orphans, we need more of them,” she enthuses to fundraising neighbors. Raul Julia is as iconic a Gomez Addams as Astin because he is just as committed to the madcap reality, bringing a swashbuckling insanity to the patriarch. This is the most fun actors like these could have. It is clear in every frame, and as contagious as the opening notes to “The Mamushka”. Christopher Lloyd’s career is littered with the debris of iconic signature roles, and his Fester Addams is a rogue among rogues in his gallery.

Jimmy Workman’s Pugsley gets a few laughs, but not as many scenes as Thing. Christina Ricci’s Wednesday, however, steals the movie, and she does it in the most underhanded way by underplaying every line so impeccably. The mere typing of this is making me giggle in recollection. The question of the afterlife is a game of life or death to Wednesday, and she treats it like any other Tuesday. Ricci is uniquely talented, one of the most committed actors to any concept, she has a laser-beam focus on the core of what is funny in any onscreen moment, dialogue or not.

Cast of The Addams Family Values

1. Addams Family Values (1993)

Reteaming Barry Sonnenfeld and the finally credited Paul Rudnick, Addams Family Values is an improvement on the exquisite imperfection of their first film. The humor is darker, the double entendres are tripled, and there is a new addition to the family. Infant Pubert Addams has his father’s mustache above his top lip, and his grandfather’s eyes in his mouth. He’s a natural fit for any guillotine, may well be cannon fodder, and runs through more nannies than nappies.

Joan Cusack’s Debbie Jellinsky is one of the great Addams family nemeses. So much so, even Morticia compliments her on everything but her tacky style, which she can’t even appreciate ironically. The scheming nanny really is a perfect match for eligible bachelor and firstborn Addams, Uncle Fester, the cover boy on this month’s “Lifestyles Of The Rich And Freakish.” There’s always room for another serial killer in the Addams Family, Gomez implies he’s had the pleasure. It is a pain, however, when the next inheritance to be collected on the kick-the-bucket list is a beloved brother, and torture is Morticia’s job.

Now tweens, Wednesday and Pugsley are deemed capable of handling the bracing shock of a real world: Camp Chippewa, where summers go to die. To ensure this, the young Addams children take a few pages from Lord of the Flies, stuff them in a turkey, and sing “Eat Me.” By the time the camp counselors are spinning on the rotisserie, we know the creator of the comic panel would be rolling over in his grave with appreciative laughter. Addams Family Values captures the mayhem of the original while keeping things contemporary, thrashing Amy Fisher, Michael Jackson, and every early ‘90s tabloid tidbit ripe for picking on.

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