I assumed my fave childhood movie was 90 minutes of Rik Mayall being playtotally obnoxious. It was. And it wasn’t.

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Many Friday nights in 1992, if you were looking to high-5 a slightly rotund kid through a blonde bowl-cut, all you had actually to do was head on dvery own to the children’s section of Civic Video. Tbelow you would have uncovered me nursing a copy of Drop Dead Fred on VHS while my teenage sister whipped approximately the aisles seeing which M-rated movie she could convince mum was actually rather PG.

This family heritage dictated that each sibling might choose one weekly video — no New Releases, nothing MA, nopoint starring Animal from The Muppets. So while my teenage sister widened her world with the likes of Point Break and also My Girl, I cheriburned constant screenings of Drop Dead Fred — the not so critically acasserted tale of a girl and also her flame-haired imaginary frifinish.


Despite my sibling’s gruff (and in hindsight reasonable) protests that watching it again and again was a “waste of money” and also that she didn’t want to sit with it one more friggin’ time, I stood firm in the knowledge that farts were funny and also she was wrong. Drop Dead Fred was a genius children’s movie.


At leastern that was my memory of it.


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Two minutes in and darkness reigns.


Divorce, Emotionally Abusive Mothers And Up-Skirts, Oh My

When I newly re-watched this childhood fave, I assumed I’d bear witness to 90 minutes of Rik Mayall embodying anarchy in a bottle; a sanitised reworking of his obnoxious character in The Young Ones. I remembered Drop Dead Fred calling his young charge Lizzie “snot-face”, mud pies being made on the dining room table and also Lizzie’s beautiful yellow jumper being unravelled by one stray threview (and also being really, really upcollection about that).

What I did not remember was the protagonist being a distraught 26-year-old womale that loses her husband also, task and automobile in one lunch hour… I believed the cheeky five-year-old was the hero. I also failed to remember that Lizzie’s mommy is a cold manage freak that Fred refers to as “The Bitch” and “Mega-beast”. Oh yeah, and that the re-appearance of her imaginary frifinish in her adult life might incredibly well be a Fight Club scenario.


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The first dominion of Fred Club is we execute not talk about Fred Club.


On optimal of this, there’s the opening credits sequence via cartoon playthings being mutilated, Fred looking up Lizzie’s mother’s dress and also shouting “COBWEBS!”, and also him mostly being a serious creeper.


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Um….


This was sort of alarming. Not only for these curious inclusions, but for exactly how a lot my younger self had in prevalent with the young Elizabeth. (Let’s simply say my parents separated when I was 5 and my glamorous single mum chosen points done a details way.) I strongly related to this film… so exactly how did I not remember any of this??


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That time Drop Dead Fred made a shaved pussy joke ten minutes right into a kids’ film.


With all this adult topic matter Trojan-horsed into a movie for youngsters, you sort of gain why Polygram distributors wanted to sell it to an additional studio once they witnessed the manic final product. However when you re-framework it as a babsence comedy about coming to be your very own ideal friend, it’s actually fairly lovely.

Plus, Carrie Fisher amirite?


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Gross-Out Gags (With Heart)

Lizzie’s arc from pining to reconcile via her cheating husband to destructive party guest to self-assured young womale is made all the even more charming by the on-screen chemisattempt between Phoebe Cates and also Rik Mayall.

Cates is so natural at playing the directly male to Mayall’s unhinged Drop Dead Fred that it’s straightforward to forget just how excellent she is at it. She may not have actually the dramatic chops to land also all of the script’s references to childhood loneliness, yet once it involves physical comedy, the lady has skillz.

Exhibit A: the lunch date where she resists an invisible Fred, who’s intent on putting her glass of water on her and also launching her meal throughout a crowded restaurant. This scene is so steeped in mortified resignation that I had actually to re-watch it twice to encertain I didn’t miss out on any type of of her hilariously anguiburned expressions. Why Cates never before went on to seek more comic duties is a mystery that haunts my dreams.


While I can’t say that Fred is attractive in his cringe-worthy up-skirt gags or particular casually misogynistic sentiments, it’s rather a surpclimb to find exactly how tender he is throughout the film’s quieter last third. Like the moment he comforts five-year-old Lizzie as she berates herself for never before doing anypoint right…

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Or this tiny, fluff-picking gesture as the adult Lizzie defines just how his abandonment sucked the life and also spirit out of her…

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Also, I have no principle why he required a kiss from Dream Lizzie in order to say goodbye, however damn, I am glad that was the last item of the puzzle.

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I love that this product gave me such joy when I was a kid; that the dark humour shone brighter than the low-budget distinct results. I’m thankful that I got to watch Cates play a fiercely flawed, however hilarious protagonist aobtain and aobtain (and aobtain and again). Maybe it’s partly responsible for why I never before wondered about that woguys can be equally funny, vulnerable and also clever as men; that all of those features could somehow fit into one neat package.

Or probably I was just a filth monster that loved gross-out humour.

I can’t think of any type of other kids’ movies that tackle divorce, damaged relationships and also battles through mental health at all, let alone in such a feverish (and admittedly sometimes problematic) means. While some could argue that I was way also young to watch it, I think it came at just the ideal time.

I’m glad that it available up significant topics in a silly way. I’m glad that it has motivated late-night conversations in my sister’s kitchen about our starray childhood obsessions. I’m glad that my five-year-old self acquired to hang out with her friends Lizzie and Drop Dead Fred eextremely Friday night.

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Grace De Morgan is a freelance writer, playwbest and also perprevious. She has created for ATYP, Good News Week, The Roast, Seizure and the Sydney Morning Herald. You deserve to discover her on Instagram
wineinaonesie or read more of her work at gracedemorgan.com.


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