The Addams Family / Addams Family Values (Blu-ray Review)

Looking at the many decades of movies based on TV shows, you can see a real mixed bag of results. While Mission: Impossible has become the best ongoing action movie franchise and The Fugitive was a Best Picture nominee, you also have pure junk such as The Dukes of Hazzard or The Mod Squad. The Addams Family films, fortunately, side with the former. The first film established the solid cast, and became a huge blockbuster hit, while the sequel is one of the best comedy sequels of all time. Now the movies have arrived in a Blu-ray two-pack (the Blu debut of Addams Family Values, no less), bringing back the macabre laughs and very exciting direction from Barry Sonnenfeld.


1991’s The Addams Family does do what it needs to establish what this group of creepy and kooky relatives’ deal is, but it mostly throws you right into their shenanigans. Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston star as Gomez and Morticia Addams. They live in a gothic mansion with their children, Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman), as well as Grandmama (Judith Malina). There’s also the family butler, Lurch (Carel Struycken), and Thing (the hand of Christopher Hart, who would also star in Idle Hands).

The main focus of the story is on Gomez’ long-lost brother Fester (Christopher Lloyd), who may not be who he seems. There’s a whole plot involving various con artists and loan sharks (Elizabeth Wilson), along with Gomez’ lawyer (Dan Hedaya), who are secretly after the Addams’ family fortune. They are using a man to pose as Fester, though he may actually be the real Fester. It’s silly, and honestly why this film never quite works as a well-rounded story.

The film is most successful when focused on the Addams family, which makes sense, but this was a pretty labored production. Tim Burton passed on directing, giving Barry Sonnenfeld (an acclaimed cinematographer for the Coen Brothers, among others at the time) his chance to direct. Despite rewrites and all sorts of production issues, he delivered a major hit. A lot of that has to do with the terrific cast, as well as Sonnenfeld’s very pronounced direction.

It’s kind of amazing to think Get Shorty factors into the man’s fantastic 90s run that includes this film’s sequel and Men in Black, as it is so comparatively slow and less flashy. With The Addams Family, there is a jolt of energy running through the Addams’ mansion at every turn. When the film basically begins with a visual effects-enhanced Thing running around the house, free of any tricks needed for the 60s TV series, you know you are in for a ride, which is what this film delivers.

Additionally, I’ve already mentioned the cast, and that is the other real highlight. Huston received a Golden Globe nomination, which seems about right, given her commitment to the role, which features both special lighting to illuminate just her pale white face, and some intense (and harmful) makeup to enhance her eyes. Meanwhile, Raul Julia is a delight as Gomez (Julia would say it was his favorite role to play, as children loved him for it). The wide-eyed optimism and joy he brings to almost every scene is as fun as a later portion of the film that finds him in a depressed state. Ricci and Workman are fun as well, though they get a lot more to do in the sequel.

This movie features a truly great ensemble that reimagines the Addams family for the 90s, something that would be similarly accomplished in The Brady Bunch Movie. While they are certainly a collection of oddballs, the film has the benefit siding with their weirdness, while playing it for laughs. The people around them don’t quite call them out on the wacky things they do, rather, they just sort of accept them, even while giving odd looks here and there.

Still, especially given what is on the way, I merely find the film, as a whole, to be okay. The casting is strong, the direction pushes full steam ahead (like Gomez’ trains), but the story always feels like a bit of a chore. I could use less Fester chicanery regarding his mysterious origins, and more Addams nonsense. That said, there is plenty of style to make this film stand out as far as being true to the original concept while fitting as a standalone feature made decades after its conception.



Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: This is the same transfer from the 2014 release of the first film. For those needing the reminder, Warner Bros. is putting out the release of the original Paramount films, and they’ve done a good job with preserving the qualities that work. The house and character design is the main highlight in regards to detail, and you can really see the effort put into the production design for this film. While you can see the age of the film, there’s still plenty to like in what comes through in this Blu-ray transfer.

Depth: There’s a high level of dimensionality on display here. Thanks to the house design, you get a lot of large rooms, with characters spaced all over to highlight this aspect.

Black Levels: Black levels are generally consistent, deep, and inky throughout. Much like the films that came out of Burton’s Batman, viewers can take in the gothic and shadowy design to evoke a certain mood. Fortunately, it fits well here, and you get a great sense of mood thanks to the use of darkness, which plays well for the black levels on display.

Color Reproduction: Colors are limited in some ways, but when they come through, they shine. Specific hints of red, let alone a big party sequence, really play up what was done to mix up the palette during moments of the film. It registers well on this Blu-ray.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures register very well. There’s a choice to make most the actors pale, and Lurch, in particular, stands out thanks to the makeup design used to create his imposing presence even more noticeable from a character design standpoint.

Noise/Artifacts: There’s nothing particularly bad about the grain reduction, but, again, the film shows its age a bit, absent a spotless restoration from a more committed studio.



Audio Format(s): English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish and French DTS Digital Surround 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French

Dynamics: This track does a fine job of capturing everything from the deadpan line readings to the very lively score, to the roaring trains, to MC Hammer’s “Addams Groove.” The lossless audio track does proper justice to a film that is so alive with wild ideas for bringing the Addams’ to life.

Low-Frequency Extension: The LFE channel gets enough to work with thanks to some moments involving the score and trains.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround presentation has everything needed to make this darkly comedic story come to life in your home. Balance is strong all around, even while center-channel focused.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone sounds loud and clear.



This movie is where it’s at. The Addams Family established the cast and the style, but Addams Family Value pushed everything further, with much better results. Perhaps it was the lack of reported rewrites and less stress on all involved, following the success of the first film, but everything clicks this time around, making for one of the best comedy sequels one could ask for.

Sometime after the first film, Gomez and Morticia have another child (seemingly because Morticia just decided to). Baby Pubert is looked at as a blessing to their parents, and an obstacle to murder for Wednesday and Pugsley. This leads to the hiring of a nanny, Debbie (Joan Cusack), who is actually a serial killer looking to marry (and murder) Uncle Fester, collecting his inheritance in the process. The kids catch on early enough, leading to Debbie having them shipped off to summer camp, where they must deal with the very un-Addams atmosphere.

The plot is fun enough, but it serves more like a setup to branch off these characters into environments where the humor can really shine in every scene. Addams Family Values is truly a joke-a-minute feature, with every deadpan line reading, quip, and otherwise proving to be at least a little funny, and at most very memorable. There’s a reason the Thanksgiving summer camp play has been well-known when it comes to thoughts of this movie or Ricci in the role of Wednesday. It’s that mix of Addams-style humor with the various locations that prove to be the best thing this series could have went after.

Casting-wise, everybody continues to bring their A-game. Raul Julia was sadly suffering from health issues during production, but he still did all he could to bring out the lust Gomez had for life. He and Angelica Huston once again shine as the couple who now have a newborn, as well as concern for Fester. Speaking of whom, without being saddled with the plotting of the first film, Christopher Lloyd really gets to shine as well, playing up all the oddness of his character, especially with Debbie’s role in going after him.

Cusack makes for a great addition, diving into the weirdness of the Addams and accepting it, along with revealing the reasons behind her madness as well, along with the extent she’ll go to to get what she wants. Supporting players including a young David Krumholtz, as well as Peter MacNicol and Christine Baranski as camp counselors do plenty to add to the film as well. And Carol Kane replacing Judith Malina as Grandmama Addams seems like such an obvious, but effective choice.

As noted already, Barry Sonnenfeld fires on all cylinders in the director’s chair. While there’s a bit less emphasis on the crazy Addams house, he still gets plenty of mileage out of that location, along with the new ones introduced. His manic energy matches the tone of the film, with the aggressive camera work doing everything needed to play into the macabre humor unfolding at every stage.

It’s a real shame this film paled in comparison to the first film when it came to the box office results (I guess once was enough for audiences?), but Addams Family Values clearly managed to garner a following over time, which fits with the stronger critic reviews this film received at the time. Whatever the reason is for people not showing up, it hasn’t stopped the movie from being hilarious and holding up rather well as a slick comedy playing up its strong ensemble cast, as well as the distinctive (and Oscar-nominated) art direction.

All of this and I didn’t even mention the look for Pubert (born with a mustache), the presence of Cousin It as well as it’s child, What, the return of Thing and Lurch, and the many other things that all factor into this amusing and creative feature. Addams Family Values does its supernatural thing well.



Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: Making its debut on the format for the first time, Addams Family Values feels like a very no-frills release that’s been simply ported over onto HD. Not the worst offense, given the relative lack of excitement that comes with some of these archive releases, but nothing to get ramped up about in the visuals department. The transfer is hitting the low benchmark for decent, which is enough for me to acknowledge some of the detail you can find in the various locations, given the emphasis on moving out of the gothic zone for big portions of the film.

Depth: There’s a decent level of dimensionality on display here. Spacing all plays well enough into what is seen.

Black Levels: Black levels are generally consistent, though there is some crushing found in some nighttime scenes. Again, the lack of a true remaster really shows, even with a decent amount of contrast.

Color Reproduction: Despite having more color than the first film, there’s actually less to really take in here. Everything feels a bit washed out, but not in a way that compliments the film’s deliberate tone.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures actually feel like they suffer here. Because of the makeup each of the actors had to wear, you can see more than needed due to the push to Blu without too much effort.

Noise/Artifacts: There’s some digital noise to be seen here.



Audio Format(s): English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish and French DTS Digital Surround 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French

Dynamics: This track does a good enough job bringing out the elements that matter. The film sounds as good as it needs to, without reaching particularly stellar heights.

Low-Frequency Extension: The LFE channel gets some moments to work with when it comes to a couple of big comedic set pieces.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround presentation has enough going on to utilize the rear channels, but not much. Everything is pretty upfront here.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone sounds loud and clear.


Not a thing, except for a couple of trailers and the character Thing seen in the movie.


The Addams Family is decent fun, but Addams Family Values is where it’s at. Regardless, both films feel like one of the better products of their time when it comes to TV shows being reformatted into something new. It helps that both films deliver a good deal of fun. The technical presentation leaves a lot to be desired, and there’s nothing in the way of extras. However, if you just want to watch these two movies again, you now have the means to do so on Blu-ray.


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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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