1991’s The Addams Family is currently streaming on Paramount+, and the timing couldn’t be better. With the ongoing writers strike, we’re still waiting on Season 2 updates for Netflix’s Wednesday, and sometimes it’s best to take a trip down nostalgia lane and watch the movie that put it in stitches upon its 1991 release. Though Christina Ricci has taken on the role of Marilyn Thornhill in the Netflix series, watching The Addams Family is a great way to remind ourselves Wednesday Addams was the part that she was born to play when she was just a youngster.
The Addams Family, streaming on Paramount+, remains the best update of the classic series to date, and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at your next movie night.
Occupying the same occult territory as Wednesday, The Addams Family focuses on the supernatural and pulls no stops in adapting the original 1964 TV series into one of the more memorable horror-adjacent comedy films of the 90s. The story centers on the titular family, and their misadventures as they deal with not only their own unique internal conflicts but the deception thrust upon them by their family lawyer, Tully Alford, who tries to infiltrate their household and steal their family fortune.
Owing a substantial amount of money to a loan shark named Abigail Craven, Alford notices that Abigail’s adopted son, Gordon, bears a striking resemblance to Fester Addams, the long-lost brother of the family patriarch, Gomez Addams.
But all is not well with the Addams family when Gomez begins to suspect that the person who is presenting himself as Uncle Fester is actually an imposter. His suspicions are all but confirmed when Uncle Fester can’t properly recall important details about the family’s past. Abigail Craven, posing under the alias Dr. Pinder-Schloss, uses manipulation to convince Gomez that he’s suffering from displacement, but the wheels of suspicion are already in motion and confirmed when Wednesday overhears Abigail and Gordon discuss their plan.
The Addams Family was a surprise hit no one saw coming, bringing in $191.5 million at the box office, spawning a sequel, video games, board games, and even a new cartoon.
Through a series of legal mishaps, the Addams family gets banned from their own estate, is forced to work regular jobs after having their lives turned upside down, and has to devise a plan to reclaim their rightfully owned property. Luckily for them, Abigail, Gordon, and Tully are unable to get past the booby traps blocking the vault, and their own incompetence catches up with them.
The Addams Family had a troubled production that was plagued with rewrites, illness, and an overall stressful filming process. All of the above hindrances caused the film to go over its $25 million budget by an additional $5 million, which ultimately led Orion Pictures to sell the film they developed up to this point to Paramount Pictures. Though the financially stressed Orion Pictures feared that they had a big-budget flop on their hands, the exact opposite happened.
After Paramount completed The Addams Family and distributed the film on the domestic front with the help of Orion Pictures for international distribution through Columbia Pictures, the film earned back nearly seven times its production costs, earning a total of $191.5 million at the box office.
The Addams Family received mixed reviews on the critical front, garnering a 67 percent critical score against a 66 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. But still, the movie proved that it had staying power on the commercial front, and it didn’t take long for a sequel to get green-lit. Just two years later, Addams Family Values saw its 1993 theatrical debut, and we witnessed even more macabre misadventures on the big screen.
Addams Family Values, the 1993 sequel, didn’t do as well at the box office, but it did send Wednesday to summer camp, a sequence so popular, it helped launch the Netflix series, Wednesday, decades later.
Though Addams Family Values didn’t perform as well commercially as The Addams Family, it received a superior 75 percent critical score. In fact, many reviewers praised the sequel for expanding the franchise by taking what worked from the first film and leaning into the deadpan humor that we all loved in the first place.
It goes without question that The Addams Family has mass appeal. By taking dark subject matter and presenting it with plenty of verve and quirk, the franchise as a whole has proven time and time again that black comedy is something that can be enjoyed by the entire family if executed properly. If you’ve never had the pleasure of viewing either feature film and want a solid primer before diving into the 1964 series (or Wednesday), then you can watch both The Addams Family, and Addams Family Values back to back on Paramount+ if you’re looking for a solid, yet spooky way to fill your afternoon.