Drop Dead Fred
By Brian Costello,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Slapstick '90s comedy is filled with crass humor.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
In its own way, this movie shows the importance of having an active imagination, in childhood and beyond.
Positive Role Models
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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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."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One of the main characters smokes cigarettes. Characters drink wine at a party.
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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.
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Where to Watch
Based on 5 parent reviews
I’ve watched this for as long as I could remember
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I seen this as a very young child and it's funnier now.
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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?
- On DVD or streaming: July 22, 2003
- Cast: Marsha Mason, Phoebe Cates, Rik Mayall
- Director: Ate de Jong
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- Last updated: October 8, 2022
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Where to Watch
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