Drop Dead Fred (1991)

dir. Ate de Jong

The sole trait of the character Drop Dead Fred is that he’s annoying. Unfortunately, by making Drop Dead Fred obnoxious and unlikeable, it also makes Drop Dead Fred obnoxious and unlikeable. Seems obvious, but the movie didn’t seem to realise it. Phoebe Cates plays Elizabeth, a young woman who begins seeing her old childhood imaginary friend Drop Dead Fred, played with an unpleasantness that’s unusual to see from someone as talented as Rik Mayall. It’s hard to tell whether the movie is supposed to be a charming coming-of-age tale, because the scenes of the grown Elizabeth interacting with a man who isn’t there come across as much more scary than adorable. But he’s definitely not a figment of her imagination, as established later in the film – he’s real. It’s just that only she can see him. It sounds more like a haunting than a psychological device to boost her self-confidence.

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