DROP DEAD FRED
Release Date: May 24, 1991
Starring: Phoebe Cates (Lizzie), Rik
Mayall (Drop Dead Fred),
Marsha Mason (Polly), Carrie
Fisher (Jane), & Tim Matheson
Genre: Romantic Comedy/Fantasy
Audience: Older teens and up
Runtime: Approximately 95 minutes
Distributor: New Line Cinema
Director: Ate de Jong
Producer: Paul Webster
Writer: Carlos Davis & Anthony
Address Comments To:Robert Shaye
New Line Cinema Corp.
575 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
After losing her car, money, job, and husband all in one day, Lizzie's mother, Polly, brings her daughter home to live with her, just as she did when Lizzie was a little girl. Suddenly, popping in from thin air is Drop Dead Fred, Lizzie's imaginary and obnoxious friend from childhood whom she blamed whenever anything went wrong.
Actually, Drop Dead Fred is anything but imaginary. Visible only to Lizzie (dressed in a green coat and red shoes, he resembles Michael Keaton's "Beetlejuice" character), Fred is evidently a real entity that leaves real evidence. With a penchant for smashing things, we see through flashbacks, as well as through current mishaps, that it is Lizzie who gets the blame for Drop Dead Fred's violent antics.
The little demon-like jokester tells Lizzie he won't leave until she's happy again. For Lizzie, this means getting back her adulterous husband Charles. However, Drop Dead Fred is more a tormentor than a helping friend and comes across as a disruptive force in Lizzie's life. He wrecks her lunch dates, sinks a friend's houseboat and tells her things like, "Never be like your mother."
When the destructive incidences get out of hand, Polly takes Lizzie to a specialist who prescribes pills for her head, but these prove less than ineffective in killing off Drop Dead Fred. Lizzie later escapes confinement and reunites with Charles, but she still is not happy.
Drop Dead Fred beckons Lizzie to come with him in a fanciful flight and to use her imagination to obliterate the hold that both Charles (he is still cheating on Lizzie, you see) and her selfish mother have over her (in the case of the latter, the magic words that liberate Lizzie turn out to be "I'm not afraid of you").
Lizzie is thus freed to get on with her life, while Drop Dead Fred goes off to "befriend" (spook is more like it) another young child. All in all, the picture reads like a very blatant attack on marriage and the family. It also errs greatly by insinuating that reality can be manipulated through imagination (or that imagination can be real). A far cry from the imaginary outings that Mary Poppins took with Jane and Michael, DROP DEAD FRED on this count not only goes over the top, but around the bend and into the ozone.
Even more disturbing is that these imaginary "friends" (more than one appear in the film), who guide us into a supposedly enlightened state, bring to mind, at least for Christians, semblances of demons. Yet paradoxically, the issue is left unaddressed as to why then Drop Dead Fred exhibits a violent five-year-old mentality, ripping up and decapitating dolls. Added to the occultic overtones are elements of scatological humor, sexual innuendo, and close to 30 instances of obscenity/profanity, making for a film that everyone will want to avoid.