Addams Family Values

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Addams Family Values is a 1993 American comedy film, the sequel to The Addams Family (1991). It was written by Paul Rudnick and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and features many cast members from the original, including Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci, Carel Struycken, Jimmy Workman and Christopher Hart. Joan Cusack plays a serial killer who marries Uncle Fester (Lloyd) intending to murder him for his inheritance, while early-teens Wednesday (Ricci) and Pugsley (Workman) are sent to summer camp. Included in the soundtrack is the song "Supernatural Thing", which was a chart success for Ben E. King.

Compared to its predecessor, which retained something of the madcap approach of the 1960s sitcom, Addams Family Values is played more for macabre laughs. The film was well received by critics, in contrast to its predecessor's mixed critical reception. However, unlike the first movie, it did only average business by earning just $48.9 million against a $47 million budget.

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Tropes used in Addams Family Values include:
  • All Part of the Show: When Wednesday goes Off the Rails during the Thanksgiving play, 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.
  • Alpha Bitch: Amanda.
  • Arson, Murder, and Admiration:
    • The following exchange between Morticia and Debbie:

Morticia: You have enslaved him. You have placed Fester under some strange sexual spell. I respect that. But please, may we see him?


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?
Debbie: What?
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.
  • Ascended Extra: The girl scout from the first movie plays Amanda in the sequel. It's entirely possible that they're the same character.
  • Barehanded Blade Block:
    • Baby Pubert does this to a guillotine blade one-handed... with just his thumb and forefinger. It must be reiterated that he's a baby.
      • It must also be reiterated that he's an Addams.
    • Gomez manages to catch a thrown butter knife in his teeth.
  • Berserk Button: A very subtle one with Pugsley. He 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".)
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Debbie, Uncle Fester's love interest.
  • Buried Alive:
    • The opening includes Wednesday and Grandmama burying a cat. When it meows, Wednesday shakes the box and shushes it.
  • The Cameo: The Addams relatives in both movies.
  • Cartwright Curse: Debbie doesn't survive the film. And it's possible Joel didn't, either.
  • 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. (This name was eventually used for the baby in this movie.)
  • Deadpan Snarker: Wednesday.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Debbie provides a slide show of her life to the Addams before she attempts to electrocute them all. She explains how when she was 9 she wanted a ballerina Barbie, when instead, her parents gave her a Malibu Barbie. She then burned down the house with them in it.
  • Driven to Suicide: When the kids arrive at Camp Chippewa and see the overabundance of normalcy among the other kids, Wednesday decides to take out a bottle of poison to drink and Pugsley tries to hang himself. Somewhat downplayed, since The Addams use various poisons as condiments of their every day cooking. Also, the way Wednesday takes it out looks similar to an alcoholic needing a drink to get over what they saw.
  • Dull Surprise: Used deliberately with some of the deadpan Wednesday's reactions, specifically because when it goes beyond that to actually surprised, it's all the more amazing... and hilarious.
  • 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.
  • Fatal Flaw: Debbie has three. The first is the obvious greed, but in a bizarre way she's more obsessed with running the potential wealth she may inherit dry than being happy with a man who would give her anything she wants. The second is Pride. She is so obsessed with the principle of living up to her nickname as the Black Widow, that she doesn't take the hint that neither Fester or the Addamses are easy to kill. To the point where she doesn't stop trying and ultimately dying as a result. The third is narcissism. She's so self-centered in her obsession with killing Fester and the Addams, because despite obvious signs otherwise, she doesn't believe they truly loved her.
  • The Film of the Series
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In-Universe example. 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. A couple in the audience react slightly, then shrug it off.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The most flagrant example being the camp counselors, Gary and Becky. Not for the way they treat Wednesday and Pugsley, but the way they heavily favor the rich, white, blonde kids over the minority campers, even casting them 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:
    • Raul Julia gets one in this movie (complete with "Take me! Take me!") when Gomez is informed that his possessed baby might one day grow up to be president.
  • Humiliation Conga: The Thanksgiving play becomes this, and doubles as a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Wednesday.
  • Jumping Out of a Cake: Gruesome example from this 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]
Gomez: C'est la vie! [everyone laughs]

  • Killer Rabbit: Wednesday.
  • Large Ham: Joan Cusack as Debbie Jellinsky, during her more Ax Crazy moments.
  • Look Ma, No Plane: In the climax of the movie, 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.
  • 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. Nobody is too upset, though.
  • Nobody Calls Me Chicken: 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.
  • 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.
  • Oedipus Complex: Gomez pulls a magazine out from Fester's bed, opens to one of the centerfolds, and the two say together "Mom!".
  • One-Scene Wonder: Cousin Itt.
  • Politically-Incorrect Villain: The camp counselors not-so-subtly favor the children of wealthy WASPs over the minority campers (and Wednesday and Pugsley).
  • Redemption Equals Death: Both played with and averted. Fester treated his Axe 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.
  • Rich Bitch: Both Debbie and Amanda.
  • 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; 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.)


Gomez: He has my father's eyes.
Morticia: Gomez, take those out of his mouth.

  • Suppressed Mammaries: Christina Ricci had her breasts tied down when she played Wednesday. 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.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Debbie: "I can show you all my references so you know I'm not a homicidal maniac."
  • 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.
  • The Un-Smile: Wednesday, in one of the most horrific examples of this trope ever.

Amanda: She's scaring me!

  • Villainous Breakdown: Debbie's failed attempts to murder Fester has put her over the edge.
  • The Voiceless: Lurch never talks, only growls and grunts. For the record, the character was intended to be mute in the show as well, but the actor ad-libbed the classic "You rang?" line and it was too funny to not capitalize.
  • Wallpaper Camouflage: Wednesday.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: 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!

  • What Happened to the Mouse?: 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?: At one point 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 until Gomez was asleep, then opened his his head and removed his brains. Gomez is surprised and sort of impressed by this revelation.