Addams Family Values

1993 film by Barry Sonnenfeld
Addams Family Values
Addams family values.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBarry Sonnenfeld
Written byPaul Rudnick
Based onCharacters
by Charles Addams
Produced byScott Rudin
CinematographyDonald Peterman
Edited by
  • Arthur Schmidt
  • Jim Miller
Music byMarc Shaiman
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • November 19, 1993 (1993-11-19) (United States)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$47 million[1]
Box office$111 million[2]

Addams Family Values is a 1993 American supernatural black comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and written by Paul Rudnick, based on the characters created by Charles Addams. It is the sequel to The Addams Family (1991). The film features almost all the main cast members from the original film, including Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci, Carel Struycken, Jimmy Workman, and Christopher Hart. Joan Cusack plays Debbie Jellinsky, a serial killer who marries Fester Addams (Lloyd) intending to murder him for his inheritance, while teenagers Wednesday (Ricci) and Pugsley (Workman) are sent to summer camp. Compared to its predecessor, which retained something of the madcap approach of the 1960s sitcom, Addams Family Values is played more for very dark and macabre laughs.[3]

The film was well received by critics, in contrast to its predecessor's mixed critical reception. However, it did not perform as well as the first film, grossing $111 million on a budget of $47 million. This was also the final film starring Julia to be released in his lifetime before his death in 1994.


Gomez and Morticia Addams hire a nanny named Debbie Jellinsky to take care of their newborn son Pubert after his older siblings (Wednesday and Pugsley)'s failed attempts to kill him, for which Gomez and Morticia gently rebuke them.

Unbeknownst to them, Debbie is a serial killer who marries rich bachelors and murders them to collect their inheritances. After Debbie seduces Uncle Fester, Wednesday becomes suspicious of her intentions. To maintain her cover, Debbie tricks Gomez and Morticia into believing Wednesday and Pugsley want to go to summer camp.

Wednesday and Pugsley are sent to Camp Chippewa, managed by the always cheerful and lively Gary and Becky Granger, where they are singled out by the counselors and popular (and snobbish) girl Amanda Buckman for their macabre appearance and behavior. Joel Glicker, a nerdy bookworm and fellow outcast, becomes attracted to Wednesday. Debbie and Fester become engaged.

At her bachelorette party, Debbie is repulsed by the Addams family and their relatives. On their honeymoon, she tries to kill Fester by throwing a boombox into the bathtub, but she fails. Frustrated, Debbie forces him to cut ties with his family; when they try to visit Fester and Debbie at their home, they are removed from the premises. The Addams are alarmed to find that Pubert has transformed into a blue-eyed, rosy-cheeked, blond-haired baby. Grandmama diagnoses this as a result of his disrupted family life and Gomez becomes horribly depressed.

At camp, the counselors cast Wednesday as Pocahontas in Gary's Thanksgiving play. When she refuses to participate, she, Pugsley, and Joel are all sent to the camp's "Harmony Hut", where they are forced to watch Bambi, Lassie Come Home, The Little Mermaid, The Sound of Music, The Brady Bunch (despite said title later having a feature film in 1995) and Annie. Afterwards, the three feign cheerfulness, and Wednesday agrees to take part. However, during the performance, she reveals her deception and returns to her old self and stages a coup, with the help of her brother and Joel, with fellow outcast campers. They capture Amanda, Gary, and Becky, and set the camp on fire. Later, Wednesday and Joel share their first kiss before separating for a time, with Joel staying behind to lead their friends to ensure the camp's permanent destruction while the Addams siblings return home via a hijacked camp van.

Debbie tries to kill Fester by blowing up their mansion, but he survives. She then pulls a gun and reveals she never loved him and that she was only interested in his money. The Thing drives Debbie's car into her and helps Fester escape. Fester apologizes to Gomez upon his return to the Addams' house, and Wednesday and Pugsley return, successfully reuniting the family together. Debbie takes another car and drives to Fester's house, where she ties the family to electric chairs, explaining—while the Addamses listen sympathetically—that she killed her parents and two previous husbands for incredibly frivolous and materialistic reasons. Upstairs, the now-restored-to-normally pale, moustached Pubert escapes from his crib and, via a series of improbable events, is propelled into the room where the family is being held. Debbie throws the switch to electrocute them, but Pubert manipulates the wires and reverses the current, electrocuting her instead and incinerating her into a pile of ash and credit cards by rescuing all of his family members from their deaths, fulfilling the family's creed of vengeance against those who cross them.

Some time later, at Pubert's first-birthday party (attended by all the Addams relatives and Joel), Fester laments Debbie's loss, but soon becomes smitten with Dementia (the new baby nanny for Cousin Itt and his wife, Margaret). In the family graveyard, Wednesday tells Joel that Debbie was a sloppy killer and she would instead scare her husband to death. As Joel lays flowers on Debbie's grave, a hand emerges from the earth and grabs him. He screams while Wednesday smiles.


Cameo roles


The "family values" in the film's title is a tongue-in-cheek reference by writer Paul Rudnick to a 1992 speech ("Reflections on Urban America") made by then-Vice Presidential candidate Dan Quayle. In the speech, Quayle controversially blamed the 1992 Los Angeles riots on a breakdown of "family values".[4]

According to Anjelica Huston, during the filming of Addams Family Values, it became increasingly clear that Raul Julia's health was deteriorating. He had trouble eating and was losing weight as a result.[4] He died less than a year after the film was released.

Sequoia National Park, particularly Sequoia Lake, in the Sierra Nevada of California, was the site of the movie's "Camp Chippewa".[5]


  • Addams Family Values: The Original Orchestral Score composed by Marc Shaiman
  • Addams Family Values: Music from the Motion Picture Various artist soundtrack album

Michael Jackson's involvement

American singer Michael Jackson was supposed to feature a song in the film called "Addams Groove/Family Thing".[6] The song is mostly rumored to have been removed due to the child sexual abuse allegations against Jackson; in reality, it was because of contractual differences with Paramount Pictures.[7] The song has since been leaked online.[8] Jackson is referenced in the film via a poster in the Harmony Hut advertising his 1992 single "Heal the World", which horrifies Joel.


Home media

The Addams Family Values video game was produced by Ocean Software.

The film was released on VHS and DVD in 2000 with only two theatrical trailers as special features. It was re-released in 2006 with the first film on a single disc, with no new features.

In October 2019, the film debuted on the Blu-ray format when Paramount Pictures[9] released double feature of Addams Family and Addams Family Values on Blu-ray in the United States, along with standalone releases.[10] In Australia, the film was released on VHS by Paramount Home Entertainment (Australasia) in 1994. In 2002 the film was released on DVD with theatrical trailers in the extra features.


Box office

Addams Family Values opened at number 1 at the US box office in its opening weekend with a reported gross of $14,117,545.[11] In its second week, the film dropped to number 2 behind Mrs. Doubtfire, and in its third week to number 3 behind Mrs. Doubtfire and A Perfect World.[12] Its final box office gross in the United States and Canada was $48,919,043, a significant decline from the previous film's domestic total of $113,502,426.[13] Internationally it grossed $62 million, for a worldwide total of $110.9 million.[2] In retrospect, Barry Sonnenfeld recalled: "I was disappointed in the box office for the second film. I think the first film is more romantic and the second film is funnier. Part of the reason it didn’t do as well is that the marketing of the movie was so similar to the first one that people didn’t think it was going to be any value-added and I really wanted to push the Pubert of it all and the Fester of it all. Instead, the whole campaign was back with the original Addams Family, so it wasn’t really promising anything new. I think that’s in part why it didn’t do as well. Many people love it as much or more as the first one".[14]

Critical response

I’m of the firm belief that the Addams Family are the most loving, caring and connected family that has ever graced the silver screen. They are wildly devoted to each other, show an interest in what the others are doing and spend tons of quality time together. In all honesty, there’s quite a bit to be jealous [of] when watching them.

—Jonathan Barkan, Bloody Disgusting, 2015[15]

Addams Family Values was well received, receiving significantly better reviews than the first film.[16] On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film received an approval rating of 74% based on 110 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "New, well-developed characters add dimension to this batty satire, creating a comedy much more substantial than the original".[17][18] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 61 out of 100 based on 21 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[19] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, a grade up from the "B" earned by the previous film.[20]

Janet Maslin of The New York Times wondered if "the making of this sequel was sheer drudgery for all concerned", then answered herself by writing: "There's simply too much glee on the screen, thanks to a cast and visual conception that were perfect in the first place and a screenplay by Paul Rudnick that specializes in delightfully arch, subversive humor".[21] Leonard Klady of Variety was slightly less enthusiastic than Maslin: "It remains perilously slim in the story department, but glides over the thin ice with technical razzle-dazzle and an exceptionally winning cast".[22] Richard Schickel, writing for Time, was even less enthuastic than Klady, calling the film "an essentially lazy movie, too often settling for easy gags and special effects that don't come to any really funny point".[23] Both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert had disliked the first film. Siskel gave Addams Family Values a mixed review and accused Sonnenfeld of caring more about how the film looks than how the jokes play. Ebert, however, gave the film three stars out of four and thought that, unusually for a sequel, it improved upon its predecessor. He enjoyed the various subplots and recommended the film.[24][25]


The film was nominated for an Academy Award in the category Best Art Direction (Ken Adam, Marvin March), but lost to Schindler's List;[26] and Huston was nominated for the 1993 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for her performance as Morticia, a reprise of her Golden Globe-nominated performance in the 1991 original. The film won also a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song for the Tag Team track "Addams Family (Whoomp!)".[citation needed] Addams Family Values was nominated for AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs.[27] In 2016, James Charisma of Playboy ranked the film #15 on a list of 15 Sequels That Are Way Better Than The Originals.[28]


  1. ^ "AFI Catalog - Addams Family Values". American Film Institute. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Top 100 grossers worldwide, '93-94". Variety. October 17, 1994. p. M-56.
  3. ^ Levy, David (December 20, 1993). "Charles Addams Might Grimace at This 'Family'". LA Times. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  4. ^ a b Huston, Anjelica (2014). Watch Me. Scribner's. p. 262=263. ISBN 9781476760346.
  5. ^ "Addams Family Values Filming Locations". Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  6. ^ Halstead, p. 8.
  7. ^ Halstead, Craig (2003). Michael Jackson ... the solo years. Cadman, Chris, 1961-. Hertford: Authors Online. ISBN 0755200918. OCLC 52975896.
  8. ^ Michael Jackson - Family Thing [Full Song HQ available], archived from the original on 2021-11-07, retrieved 2021-03-24
  9. ^ "Addams Family & Addams Family Values Double Feature".
  10. ^ Larson, Dr. Stephen (2019-10-01). "Addams Family Values Blu-ray Release Date October 1, 2019". Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  11. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for November 19–21, 1993". Box Office Mojo.
  12. ^ "Addams Family Values (1993) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo.
  13. ^ "The Addams Family box office totals". Box Office Mojo.
  14. ^ "THE ADDAMS FAMILY Interview: Barry Sonnenfeld Talks the Film's Legacy on Its 30th Anniversary (Exclusive)". 28 October 2021.
  15. ^ Barkan, Jonathan (April 14, 2015). "Which Addams Family Member Are You?". Bloody Disgusting. The Collective. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  16. ^ Brew, Simon (September 29, 2014). "The huge behind the scenes problems on The Addams Family". Den of Geek.
  17. ^ "Addams Family Values (1993)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved September 21, 2022.
  18. ^ Rainer, Peter (November 19, 1993). "Let's Have a Hand for 'Addams Family Values'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  19. ^ "Addams Family Values Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  20. ^ "Cinemascore :: Movie Title Search".
  21. ^ Maslin, Janet (November 19, 1993). "Addams Family Values (1993)". The New York Times.
  22. ^ Klady, Leonard (November 13, 1993). "Addams Family Values". Variety. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  23. ^ Schickel, Richard (November 29, 1993). "Looking for Mr. Goodfather". Time. Archived from the original on 4 November 2009. Retrieved November 24, 2009.
  24. ^ Siskel & Ebert "Addams Family Values/The Snapper/Dangerous Game/The Saint of Fort Washington/Like Water for Chocolate" airdate (20 November 1993). Season 8 Episode 11
  25. ^ Ebert, Roger (November 19, 1993). "Addams Family Values". It's the rare sequel that is better than its original
  26. ^ "The 66th Academy Awards (1994) Nominees and Winners". Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-04.
  27. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-12-20. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  28. ^ Charisma, James (March 15, 2016). "Revenge of the Movie: 15 Sequels That Are Way Better Than The Originals". Playboy. Archived from the original on 2016-07-26. Retrieved July 19, 2016.

External links

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  • The Addams Family (1991)
  • Addams Family Values (1993)
  • The Addams Family (musical)
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  • The Addams Family (1993)
  • The Addams Family: Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt (1993)
  • Addams Family Values (1994)
  • The Addams Family Mystery Mansion (2019)
  • The Addams Family: An Evilution (2010)
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Films directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
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  • Wild Wild West (1999)
  • Big Trouble (2002)
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