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Drop Dead Fred

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Drop Dead Fred Movie Poster Image
Slapstick '90s comedy is filled with crass humor.
  • PG-13
  • 2003
  • 103 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

In its own way, this movie shows the importance of having an active imagination, in childhood and beyond.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While the film definitely encourages a whole slew of bad behaviors, Elizabeth does learn to accept who she is, and to stand up to those who have been mean to her.


Cartoonish violence involving an imaginary friend who engages in numerous instances of slapstick pratfalls. A woman is knocked unconscious after being hit in the head with a frying pan.


An imaginary friend looks up women's skirts in two scenes. In the first scene, while looking up the skirt of an older woman, he exclaims, "Cobwebs!" In the second scene, while looking up the skirt of an attractive younger woman, he exclaims, "No panties!" There is also reference to people "doing it like the pigeons." At a fancy party, a body builder server has his toga removed, exposing his naked buttocks. During a business meeting, a woman yells that she only gets to "schtup" a married man in the room once a month.


Occasional profanity: "S--t." "Piss off." "Hell." "Bitch." Early in the movie, after hearing a bedtime story, a young girl exclaims, "What a pile of s--t."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the main characters smokes cigarettes. Characters drink wine at a party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Drop Dead Fred is a 1991 slapstick comedy about a newly-separated woman who has brought her mischievous imaginary childhood friend back to life. As a goofy comedy, there are numerous moments of cartoonish violence. Much of the comedy is inappropriate for younger viewers -- Fred smearing dog excrement on a spotless white rug, or Fred picking his nose and wiping it on others' faces, for instance -- but overall, despite these scenes and some of the language and sexual content (Fred looking up skirts, a bare male bottom), this is a charmingly dated slice of early '90s silliness that could resonate for teens and adults who had imaginary friends when they were younger.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJeejee April 18, 2016

Outrageous, funny and magical...just like Rik Mayall!

This has been my favourite movie from being a young child and it is still to this day the only movie that makes me cry! It's not typically a movie that wou... Continue reading
Adult Written bygoodgirl November 12, 2015

If you ever had an imagnary friend.

then this is a funny movie for you to watch. a woman who as a child had an imaginary friend and now he's back.
Teen, 14 years old Written byfluffy gizmo December 10, 2015

One of the worst movies ever

This movie is mean spirited, unfunny, annoying, disgusting and many other hateful words. This has no likeable characters, decent jokes, or a good screenplay. It... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byGirlistique November 9, 2015

I love this film!

This is my second favourite comedy film. I think the rating in the film is correct and I'm going to say 12. It has a lot of a swearing but if you watch it... Continue reading

What's the story?

Elizabeth (Phoebe Cates) has left her cheating husband (Tim Matheson) to move back in with her domineering mother (Marsha Mason). While back in her childhood bedroom, she stumbles across an old jack-in-the-box that is taped shut. She reopens the box, and out comes her imaginary childhood friend, Drop Dead Fred (Rik Mayall), who is still just as mischievous, obnoxious, and playful as he was back when Elizabeth was just a little girl making giant mud pies, breaking valuables, and causing all kinds of trouble with him. Now, Drop Dead Fred must find a way to convince Elizabeth that it's OK for her to be herself, in spite of what her lying husband and manipulative mother tell her, as they scheme to send Elizabeth to a psychiatrist who prescribes pills that do away with imaginary friends like Drop Dead Fred.

Is it any good?

It's obnoxious, crass, gross, and firmly dated in the early 1990s. But in spite of (or because of) this, DROP DEAD FRED is a hilariously juvenile comedy that also tries to show the importance and value in being true to yourself. Drop Dead Fred is played by the brilliant British comedic actor Rik Mayall, and while his general behavior and dialogue in this one might grow tiresome for those who don't appreciate this level of silliness and slapstick, in the right mindset, this is, on the whole, as imaginative as it is zany.

While the movie would most likely plant some bad ideas into the heads of impressionable younger kids, for older kids and parents, especially those who had imaginary friends when they were younger, Drop Dead Fred is a joyful evocation of childhood anarchy, of limitless energy and boundless imagination.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different types of violence in movies and TV shows. What makes the moments of violence in this movie cartoonish, as opposed to realistic or graphic?

  • What makes this a slapstick comedy, as opposed to another type of comedy?

  • In this movie, kids (and Elizabeth as an adult) with imaginary friends are shown as being in need of psychiatric and pharmaceutical help. Do you think the use of pills on children with imaginary friends curtails their active imaginations and personalities, or does it help them to live normal and productive lives?

Movie details

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