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Learning from Movies: The Addams Family

“Gomez and Pugsley are enthusiastic. Morticia is even in disposition, muted, witty, sometimes deadly. Grandma Frump is foolishly good-natured. Wednesday is her mother’s daughter. A closely knit family, the real head being Morticia—although each of the others is a definite character — except for Grandma, who is easily led. Many of the troubles they have as a family are due to Grandma’s fumbling, weak character. The house is a wreck, of course, but this is a house-proud family just the same and every trap door is in good repair. Money is no problem.” 
– Charles Addams

The Addams Family started out waaaaaaaay back in 1938 as a series of single panel cartoons in The New Yorker, created by American cartoonist Charles Addams (1912-1988).

 They spawned two TV series (the 1964-1966, black & white version, with John Astin [adopted father of Sean] and Carolyn Jones is my favorite), two animated series, three movies, and a Broadway musical.

I grew up in a very straight-laced family, but I always felt a kinship for both The Addams Family and The Munsters. Their alternative viewpoints and macabre lifestyles were a breath of fresh air. They said there were other ways to live our lives.

In November, 1991, I’d been back from the First Gulf War less than a year. The movie adaptation starring Raoul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, Dan Hedaya, Christina Ricci, and Carel Struycken was a real gift.

A few years later, I went to work for Wizards of the Coast. Some of my co-workers dressed like characters from the cartoons. They quickly became some of my best friends. I knew I was home.

See what you can learn from The Addams Family after the jump.

  • Don’t be a baby. I know what I’m doing
  • The French language can be an aphrodisiac
  • Some people like the flowers, and some like the thorns
  • Don’t torture yourself. That’s my job
  • Even when your parents call you inhumanly evil, your brother still loves you
  • A fine lunge can be undercut by a rusty riposte
  • Sometimes joie de vivre, authenticity, and innocence seem like stupidity – but they aren’t
  • There are people in this world who can’t stand to see others prosper and enjoy life
  • The human spirit is a hard thing to kill. Even with a chainsaw
  • Family lets you feel happy about being yourself
  • Children often have very good judgment about people, and they’re always watching
  • What do we say? We say, “Now.”
  • Make sure you know what game you’re going to play before you sit in the chair
  • You can’t fool everyone
  • Being only a child is no excuse
  • You can learn a great deal when you can see the intriguing beauty in unpleasant subjects
  • We gladly feast on those who would subdue us
  • You should finish college before you dance naked in the town square and enslave the minister
  • Even bad puns can be fun if delivered with the right spirit
  • Kill the hare. Skin it. Boil it. Put the tortoise on the highway during rush hour. Poison us. Strangle us. Break our bones. We will come back for more.
  • Girl Scout cookies would be better if they were made with real Girl Scouts
  • Make sure your subject considers it torture before you strap her to the rack
  • Living without the one you love is the only real torture
  • Strange and unusual people can help you see life in new and constructive ways
  • Homicidal maniacs look just like everyone else
  • Even for the Addams Family, stranger things have happened
Sigh. If only we remembered Raoul Julia for Gomez Addams, and not for this…


Are you an Addams’ Family fan? Do you know Uncle Fester’s last name? What’s the combination to the family vault, and why? Share the love in the comments.

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