The Addams Family (1991 film)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The Addams Family is a 1991 American supernatural black comedy film based on the characters from the cartoon created by cartoonist Charles Addams and the 1964 TV series. Directed by former cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld in his screen directing debut, the film stars Anjelica Huston, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance as Morticia Addams, Raul Julia as Gomez Addams, and Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester. The film focuses on a bizarre, macabre, aristocratic family who reconnect with who they believe to be a long-lost relative, Gomez's brother Fester Addams, who is actually the adopted son of a loan shark intending to swindle the Addams clan out of their vast wealth and fortune.

The film was noted for its troubled production; originally developed at Orion, the film went $5 million over budget due to constant rewrites throughout shooting; health problems of people involved in the filming and an overall stressful filming for Sonnenfeld himself, caused multiple delays. The rise in production costs from the film's $25 million budget to $30 million led Orion, fearful of another big-budget flop and financially struggling, to sell the film to Paramount, who completed the film and handled the film's domestic distribution, while Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer distributed the film internationally. The film was commercially successful, making back several times its production costs, and was followed by a sequel, Addams Family Values, two years later.

The Addams Family (1991 film) is the Trope Namer for:
Tropes used in The Addams Family (1991 film) include:
  • Adaptational Personality Adjustment: Wednesday Addams undergoes a significant personality change compared to the original sitcom, going from a cheery little girl to a frowning and vicious psychopath who does not deal in half-truths. Unlike most examples of this trope, reception to the change was almost universally positive.
  • All There in the Script: Fester called Gomez a "demented freak", which was the password.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: In-Universe: when Morticia is working as a kindergarten teacher she reads Hansel and 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.
  • 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.
  • Arson, Murder, and Admiration: 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.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: The Mamushka, a traditional dance performed by Gomez and Fester, 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.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Gordon as Fester warms up to the family, because their quirks and his way with violence are an even match. Slight Aversion because he turned out to be the real Fester. Just stuck with Amnesia. Margaret warms up to the family and marries Cousin Itt for the same reason.
  • Bloody Hilarious: In The Movie -- Greatest. Elementary. School. Play. Ever.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: First movie:

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 with Wednesday's accomplices waiting for them being cooked.
  • 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?

  • Calvin Ball: "Wake The Dead" seems to be some variety of this.
  • The Cameo: The Addams relatives in all the movies.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The books in the library, which have Exactly What It Says On The Spine.
  • 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Wednesday.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: See What Happened to the Mouse?, below.
  • 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.
  • The Film of the Series
  • For Halloween I Am Going as Myself: Wednesday does this. When asked where her costume is, she replies;

"This is my costume. I'm a homicidal maniac. They look just like everyone else."

Gomez: I believe they own --
Morticia: Gomez, no -- !
Gomez: -- A BUICK!!!!"

    • Wednesday in the school play:

"Sweet oblivion, open your arms! *retch, retch, collapse*

  • Nigh Invulnerable: 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. Pusgley 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.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Cousin Itt.
  • Pet The Dog: Wednesday, who usually is the more sadistic of the family, helps Margaret out of the finger trap.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Fester and Wednesday.
  • 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.
  • Tranquil Fury: When Gomez shows up to rescue Mortica, he is his usual hammy self, but you can tell there's a hint of anger when he challenges Tully for torturing Morticia. (While the Addams enjoy torture, Gomez would treat that as if another man was courting her.)

Gomez: Dirty pool, old man. NEVER AGAIN!!!

  • 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.
  • 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 Sequel Addams Family Values.