The Addams Family Films, Ranked

The Addams Family's history began in 1938 when cartoonist Charles Addams first drew the eccentric (and then-nameless) characters in a series of cartoons for The New Yorker. In the 1960s, "The Addams Family" television show cemented the iconic characters' influence on pop culture. Whether or not they directly inspired their competitors like "The Munsters," the titular family and their ooky-spooky-kooky theme song have been inescapable ever since. There have been two live-action shows in the '60s and the '90s, two animated series in the '70s and the '90s, board games, and video games. In fall 2022, Netflix will debut a Wednesday Addams series.

But let's not forget the films! Decades after the family first debuted, director Barry Sonnenfeld finally brought them to the big screen in 1991's "The Addams Family," starring Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, and Christina Ricci. Sequels followed in 1993 and 1998, with the latter film serving as a direct-to-VHS pilot for "The New Addams Family" television series. In 2019 MGM rebooted the "Addams Family" franchise in animated form. Wondering which movies are worth your time? Read on for our ranked list of "Addams Family" films.

5. The Addams Family 2 (2021)

It's hard to pinpoint what makes "The Addams Family 2" such a disappointment. Perhaps it's the fact that none of the characters seem to act like themselves. Gomez (Oscar Isaac) spends the film making dumb dad jokes and trying to get a hug from Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz). Morticia (Charlize Theron) is a non-factor, going along with the family road trip without cause. Wednesday is suddenly a child-prodigy scientist and inventor, which we've never seen before: she's been deviously ingenious, sure, but always in pursuit of things like trying to kill her younger brother. Making her someone who can run a DNA test on the fly doesn't fit. Speaking of her younger brother, Pugsley (Javon Walton) is whiny and infantile, complaining to his mother whenever Wednesday threatens his life. Throughout the Addams Family franchise, the whole joke is that he willingly submits to his fate!

The disappointment also comes from the unfocused storyline, which jettisons everything that happened at the end of the first animated film in pursuit of a family road trip that never makes as much use of its locations. The family excitedly rents barrels to go over Niagara Falls because they've heard how many people have died — that's one good joke, at least. But scenes in Miami and Texas don't pull as much weight. Mostly, the humor doesn't come from the wicked way the characters see the world. Instead, it's forgettable, which is the worst thing an "Addams Family" film can be.

4. Addams Family Reunion (1998)

"Addams Family Reunion" is bizarre. Its slapstick filming style is full of canted angles, bad CGI gags, and googly-eyed close-ups, meaning its tone lands closer to those Hostess Cupcakes ads than the zany direction of Barry Sonnenfeld movies. Director Dave Payne told Yahoo! Movies, "Everything we wanted to do was killed at the creative level by the executives, who kept on saying, 'No, just rip off the movies!'" "Addams Family Reunion" is now in the public domain, as no one obtained the film's distribution rights.

However, it's such a wacky misfire that it's worth a revisit. Although Carel Struycken reprises his role as Lurch, no other cast members from "The Addams Family" or "The Addams Family Values" return for this film. That would be a warning sign for a straight-to-VHS sequel, but the new cast is excellent. Tim Curry takes over as Gomez, Daryl Hannah plays Morticia, and sitcom icon Alice Ghostley assumes the role of Granny, and they're all doing their best. Even the dialogue isn't terrible. Hannah has a couple of classically dark and misdirection-filled one-liners like: "Considering the overcrowded classrooms, the lack of funding, and dangerous conditions... We've decided to keep our children in public school." Her choice to deliver Morticia's lines in a Marilyn Monroe-esque purr is bizarre. But like Curry's freaky patriarch, Hannah's direction mostly works. At the very least, its reunion-gone-wrong plot has more places to go than the forgettable animated sequel does.

3. The Addams Family (2019)

The 2019 animated film "The Addams Family" explores how insular and frightening communities can be when they try to define themselves by those who don't belong. While it's not clear that an "Addams Family" movie needs a socially-relevant message, this is as good a theme as any. In this case, the app is a proprietary one called Neighborhood Peeps, flooded with misinformation and fearmongering by a reality TV real-estate developer who wants to force the Addams family to leave town.

The film's humor is a mixed bag. There are groan-worthy attempts to be relevant that already feel dated like Fester (Nick Kroll) sporting a "No Regerts" tattoo and a barbershop quartet of shrunken heads singing a Cardi B song. Thankfully, there's some classically-Addams dialogue to keep things zipping right along. As Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) runs away from home, she calls to her brother, "Goodbye, Pugsley. I'll never forget you... but I'll try!" Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron are solid as Gomez and Morticia. However, Moretz keeps Wednesday sounding affectless and bored rather than dry and sarcastic.

It's a shame that the film doesn't use its animation more effectively. Wednesday's pigtails end in tiny nooses, which is a fun touch. But overall, this film looks like it could be a "Hotel Transylvania" or a "Despicable Me" movie rather than a film with a unique visual style. As "Addams Family" films go, this is solidly middle-of-the-road.

2. The Addams Family (1991)

Barry Sonnenfeld's whimsical "The Addams Family" is a wicked introduction to the oddball family. While trying to raise their dear, departed Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) from the dead, the titular family unknowingly invites a con man into their home. Though the humor keeps things snappy, the film's story is thin. It's only a matter of time before the family realizes Fester isn't really Fester. While we wait for them to discover this, the film spins its wheels.

Mostly, the movie is a series of humorous vignettes. The scene where Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) do Shakespeare is a particular standout. The running gag of homicidal siblings trying to kill each other in the background never fails to amuse. Sonnenfeld's slapstick visuals serve their purpose, but they haven't necessarily aged well. What really makes the film work are the cast's committed performances. Anjelica Huston savors some absurd line readings, like when she admonishes her daughter, "Wednesday, play with your food!" Raul Julia makes Gomez into a lothario — seriously, these movies are horny — and he's always fun to watch. Christopher Lloyd's Fester brings wacky energy to the part of a sweetly-stupid trickster out to steal the Addams family fortune. Of course, the real standout is Ricci. Her dry, witty, star-making performance is an absolute delight, matching the veteran actors around her in every frame: this movie deserves its beloved reputation for Ricci's work.

1. Addams Family Values (1993)

Two words: Joan. Cusack. As the kids say, she understood the assignment. As committed as everyone was in the original film, Cusack elevates "Addams Family Values" thanks to her sultry, over-the-top performance as Debbie Jelinsky, the murderous widow trying to get her clutches on Uncle Fester's (Christopher Lloyd) fortune. She camps and vamps it up, gleefully chewing every bit of scenery.

Ricci gets to shine more in this sequel — likely due to the warm reception of Ricci's Wednesday in the original film. She and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) attend summer camp, where they terrorize fellow campers and a counselor named Becky (Christine Baranski). Points demoted for showing non-Indigenous kids in Native headdresses during a Thanksgiving play. However, points rewarded for Wednesday's impassioned, impromptu monologue about settler-colonialism, validating the Native Americans' dislike of Pilgrims. Surprisingly, it's an empathetic moment for a character who stridently avoids empathy, and Ricci kills it. Of course, Anjelica Huston's line readings continue to be delicious with purring speeches like: "You have married Fester. You have destroyed his spirit. You have taken him from us. All that, I could forgive. But, Debbie... pastels?"