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Episode #77: Drop Dead Fred

Listen to Episode 77 of the Podcast here while you enjoy the show notes.

SUMMARY - In Drop Dead Fred, Elizabeth (played by Phoebe Cates) has recently lost her husband, her car and her job. While staying with her mother, Elizabeth discovers an old jack-in-the-box toy that unleashes her imaginary friend Drop Dead Fred (played by Rik Mayall). Fred was an instigating, trouble-making influence and now he’s back with that same attitude to help Elizabeth deal with all of her adult problems.

Screenplay by Carlos Davis and Anthony Fingleton; Directed by Ate de Jong; and released on May 24, 1991.


Movies don't utilize creative opening credit sequences anymore.

Our lead character starts her on-screen life losing just about everything possible.

Most of it's bad, but the one she's most concerned with (losing her husband) is one that the audience automatically knows is a net-positive for her.

Back at her mother's place, an old memory of the imaginary friend comes back and we get to start our armchair psychiatrist debate

Most of the pranks played by Fred may be funny to some kids, but they are largely cruel

There's a lot to be said about the relationship between mother and daughter, both in the present day, but mostly from when Liz was a kid.

We also dive into the father's role in all of this.

Of course we focus most attention on the dynamic between Liz and Fred, discuss motivations and what benefits he provides, if any, etc.

The movie is simultaneously too old and too young, as there is the gross out humor kids of 1991 were expected to like but the underlying issues are very much not kid oriented.

Still, both leads provide incredible performances

There's a Game Boy sighting when in the office where all the imaginary friends converge

This speaks to greater world building that we aren't let into and it would have been kind of fun to explore that. Maybe it was part of the planned sequel.

Through all the madness, there are some interesting scenes and it would have been great to see more like this where part is shot with Fred and then other shots allow for Phoebe Cates' physical comedy to come through

The movie may be polarizing, but at least it gave us a lot to talk about. For what seems like a silly movie on the surface, there's a lot to explore and dive into.

Awards Talk: None to speak of this time.


This week's movie came out the same day as several other 1991 movies, including one we recently watched, "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken" so TV is the same.

So, here are some additional articles about Drop Dead Fred you can enjoy

On the music side, we're talking about the songs debuting on the Billboard 100 charts the week of May 25, 1991

78. Nights Like This - After 7 (The Five Heartbeats Soundtrack)

87. You Can’t Play with My Yo-Yo - Yo-Yo feat. Ice Cube

88. Kissing You - Keith Washington

90. Where The Streets Have No Name - Pet Shop Boys

91. I’ll Be There - Escape Club

92. Ooh La La - David Hallyday

94. Someone - The Rembrandts


Nikki 1-5 star scale - 3 out of 5

Jon 0-4 star scale - 2 1/2 out of 4

Would you watch it again? - Yes. The performances of Rik Mayall and the physical comedy of Phoebe Cates are worth another viewing by themselves. For a movie that is so silly on the surface, there is quite a lot of depth to be found. It'll be interesting to take what we think and discussed into a second viewing to see what new perceptions come out of it. We'd also be interested to see other projects that involve that same world of imaginary friends.

If you want to watch Drop Dead Fred, as of this recording in August 2022, it’s available on Digital Rental, VHS, DVD. Check your local listings.


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