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Episode 219 - Drop Dead Fred: LIVE! (w/ Casey Wilson)

Drop Dead Fred  

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Casey Wilson (Bitch Seth) joins Paul, June and Jason to discuss the 1991 comedy Drop Dead Fred. Recorded live at The Bell Theater in Los Angeles, they talk about why this movie made June want to pursue acting, Phoebe Cates's character's relationship with Drop Dead Fred, Casey's hatred of the movie, and more. It's the most divisive episode in HDTGM history!

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So this movie was very upsetting to me.  No other movie has given me so much anxiety. It was 90+ minutes of someone just gleefully destroying other people's things and lives. fun I personally believe this is similar to a Monsters Inc situation or more closely the Disney channel movie Don't Look Under The Bed scenario. So I do think Fred is his own being. He even mentioned being locked up and unable to move on.

I can understand why Fred goes after the mom. She was seen as the advisory of Elizabeth's childhood, and to an extent is still. But Carrie Fisher? She was an innocent! And honestly Fred doesn't help Elizabeth, he actively hurts her. He physically hurts her multiple times and puts her in danger. Not only does her hurt her physically but in her relationships as well. He endangers her friendship with Carrie Fisher and by sinking the condo boat takes away the place she was staying so she has to go back home.  At her date with Mickey( though I think he's a creep.) he tries to ruin that even though he hates Charles. He doesn't want her to move on with him because he finds him "girly". He should be encouraging her to get back out there and forget Charles. He then pretends to be the violinist even after Elizabeth has begged him to leave her alone. This causes her to break down and she assaults the violinist causing her to be detained by the mall cops and be put on medication. 

Drop Dead Fred has no real regard for her true happiness, he only cares for how he can have his sadistic twisted fun. He actively endangers her happiness and causes her greater distress.

Having never seen this movie I thought he would be less about reveling in violence and more of a gleefully chaotic Loki esq archetype who would help her get in touch with her inner child and pull pranks on like a tough boss, her shit ex and her overbearing mother that kind of thing. Not drive her to the brink of madness. 

 

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So can we talk about how Micky's ex needs to get primary custody and she needs to get it yesterday? What kind of a  person delights in a woman FLINGING her meal at someone else in a restaurant? Then does the same and has to be physically escorted out? Who likes that someone SINKS SOMEONE ELSE'S HOME? He blatantly says he's attracted to Elizabeth's "crazy". If anyone says they are attracted to your (perceived) mental illness? RUN. They should not be trusted.

What kind of a father is delighted by a romantic interests mental instability? There's being quirky and a stereotypical Manic Pixie Dream Girl and there's beating up a violinist.

This is of course not to say you can't love someone with mental health problems, I myself have severe anxiety and depression. I just think there's something deeply weird about reveling in Elizabeth's unstable behavior especially when he has a young child.

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1 hour ago, gigi-tastic said:

So this movie was very upsetting to me.  No other movie has given me so much anxiety. It was 90+ minutes of someone just gleefully destroying other people's things and lives. fun I personally believe this is similar to a Monsters Inc situation or more closely the Disney channel movie Don't Look Under The Bed scenario. So I do think Fred is his own being. He even mentioned being locked up and unable to move on.

I can understand why Fred goes after the mom. She was seen as the advisory of Elizabeth's childhood, and to an extent is still. But Carrie Fisher? She was an innocent! And honestly Fred doesn't help Elizabeth, he actively hurts her. He physically hurts her multiple times and puts her in danger. Not only does her hurt her physically but in her relationships as well. He endangers her friendship with Carrie Fisher and by sinking the condo boat takes away the place she was staying so she has to go back home.  At her date with Mickey( though I think he's a creep.) he tries to ruin that even though he hates Charles. He doesn't want her to move on with him because he finds him "girly". He should be encouraging her to get back out there and forget Charles. He then pretends to be the violinist even after Elizabeth has begged him to leave her alone. This causes her to break down and she assaults the violinist causing her to be detained by the mall cops and be put on medication. 

Drop Dead Fred has no real regard for her true happiness, he only cares for how he can have his sadistic twisted fun. He actively endangers her happiness and causes her greater distress.

Having never seen this movie I thought he would be less about reveling in violence and more of a gleefully chaotic Loki esq archetype who would help her get in touch with her inner child and pull pranks on like a tough boss, her shit ex and her overbearing mother that kind of thing. Not drive her to the brink of madness. 

 

If we go with Fred being a manifestation of Elizabeth, I think most of that could be explained by her self-sabotaging, feeling she's not worthy of happiness or love. Pushing away good people and staying with the wrong ones.

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Whew, this episode was a roller coaster. I have so many thoughts, but I'll try to contain most of them because I do get why people dislike it. It is loud and over the top and there’s stuff that definitely could have been executed better. I would also hard agree that this is 100% not a kid’s movie. Much like Ace Venture was definitely not a kid's movie, but was shown to me and my peers repeatedly as a child.

Elizabeth’s mother was abusive. Period. Abuse may not have been her intention, but it’s what she was serving up. There’s the whole makeover scene where she styles her daughter exactly in her image. That’s friggin' nutso. Her daughter isn't allowed to be her own person!

Repeating someone’s name is like gaslighting douchebag abuse 101. Why marry Elizabeth at all? Because he was an abusive garbage monster who saw a dowdy, childlike dummy he could keep under his thumb that would keep house and play wife when he wanted, and would never leave him for chasing skirts all over town. He called her mother behind her back! He knew who the original abuser was and went right to the source to get Elizabeth back in line!

The only problem I have is that Carrie Fisher's character makes no logical sense any way I wrap my head around her. While I completely understand being as delicate as possible around a friend that's suffered long-term emotional abuse, at some point (I'd assume when she renders you homeless and then comes into your serious place of employment) you have to be firm and put your foot down.

The dopey love interest and his dismissal of Elizabeth's mental state does make sense to me though. From way afar she's kind of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and he seems to be the kind of dope that would buy into that nonsense.

Nobody seems to see Elizabeth as a person because she doesn’t know who she is. She was never allowed to form her own personhood. Fred, real/magical or self-actualization aside, does finally get her to start living her own life.

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Also,

-Elizabeth having MAC makeup applied-

"Now, Elizabeth, don't worry, all these products are cruelty-free."

giphy.gif

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I'm with Paul and Casey. This movie was disturbing.

And Problem Child >>>>>>>>> DDF

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I’m Team Fred and I like this movie.  I don’t love it, but I like it.

I love Rik Mayall (MAY-ul) and have seen literally everything he’s ever appeared in, as should everybody.  He was a comedic genius, not only with with eye-gouging, ball-stomping slapstick, but also with deeply ironic character work.  It’s a shame that he’s not better known in the States, because he really was one of the great comic talents of all time.  That said, it’s just as well Drop Dead Fred wasn’t his launching pad into Hollywood superstardom, because its failure kept him on English television, where he made Bottom, the undisputed pinnacle of his career. 

One reason I like, but don’t love, Drop Dead Fred is that the role of Fred, the unbridled id, is wrong for Rik Mayall; this absolutely should have been an Ade Edmondson vehicle.  He was Rik’s partner in the Dangerous Brothers and Bottom, and even Waiting For Godot in the West End, and played Vyvyan on The Young Ones.  In their comedic relationship, it was Ade who was always the one who did whatever he wanted however he wanted without any shame, screaming every line, while Rik was always the ego-restrained id, a pompous and boastful narcissist with a carefully guarded and largely phony persona who wanted and pretended to live a wild life, but when caught or confronted attempting to feebly do so, would be so embarrassed that he would adamantly deny it and even voice his moral superiority over it.   That complex hypocrisy was the brilliance of his characters, and it’s completely absent here.

So, when’s Casey coming back to watch Guest House Paradiso?  She’d love it...

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3 hours ago, Team Fred said:

I’m Team Fred and I like this movie.  I don’t love it, but I like it.

I love Rik Mayall (MAY-ul) and have seen literally everything he’s ever appeared in, as should everybody.  He was a comedic genius, not only with with eye-gouging, ball-stomping slapstick, but also with deeply ironic character work.  It’s a shame that he’s not better known in the States, because he really was one of the great comic talents of all time.  That said, it’s just as well Drop Dead Fred wasn’t his launching pad into Hollywood superstardom, because its failure kept him on English television, where he made Bottom, the undisputed pinnacle of his career. 

One reason I like, but don’t love, Drop Dead Fred is that the role of Fred, the unbridled id, is wrong for Rik Mayall; this absolutely should have been an Ade Edmondson vehicle.  He was Rik’s partner in the Dangerous Brothers and Bottom, and even Waiting For Godot in the West End, and played Vyvyan on The Young Ones.  In their comedic relationship, it was Ade who was always the one who did whatever he wanted however he wanted without any shame, screaming every line, while Rik was always the ego-restrained id, a pompous and boastful narcissist with a carefully guarded and largely phony persona who wanted and pretended to live a wild life, but when caught or confronted attempting to feebly do so, would be so embarrassed that he would adamantly deny it and even voice his moral superiority over it.   That complex hypocrisy was the brilliance of his characters, and it’s completely absent here.

So, when’s Casey coming back to watch Guest House Paradiso?  She’d love it...

I don't think the filmmakers put as much thought into it as you did. They just wanted to have a lot of this kind of thing:

tenor.gif?itemid=9599079

And put a touchy feely 90s ending on it.

 

 

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Was it just me or did Mickey Buntz look like a young Christoph Waltz?

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This is not a little kids movie (under 10) but for 11-14 it hits its marks. I am not surprised so many people found it upsetting, but I was surprised how people couldn't buy into the imaginary friend bit. I saw it as similar to Inside Out, where a different persona exists within the main character.
I think team Fred vs Team Mum question is confusing, are they asking who you think has Elizabeth's best interests? Because neither, one ties her down (thought that wasn't just metaphoric but now I guess it was) as a child and blames her for the break up of her marriage, the other gets her arrested, sinks a boathouse and asks her to kiss him on the mouth.
A lot depends more on who you think Fred is, like if he isn't an imaginary friend, like many seem to say, what is he? A creepy angel/ghost who haunts little girls, gets blown away by sneezes but someone can control certain people but not others and can only be seen by one person but also has no back story of how he came to be????!

I am not team Fred or team Mom, I am team June n Jason. I believe she has serious problems, an adult still not taking control of her life, she says she doesn't want to be alone, she creates a friend to deal with it, also to not take responsibility for her own acting out. She also is controlled by her mother and her husband and finally takes control of her shit and moves on from both and takes responsibility for her actions by saying bye to Fred.
The little girl at the end was the most puzzling thing, well that and the idea of a "romantic dinner salad".

 

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I see a similar disagreement with this movie that I saw with “Inside Out”

If you watched Inside Out as a visual representation and metaphor for how emotions work within humans, it was a lovely tale showing you that you don’t have to be happy all the time, and trying to do that could ultimately destroy you
that all emotions are valid and important and nuanced.

But if you watched it as a film about tiny beings that operate humans as giant bio-mechanical machines, it was a fairly bland and predictable “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” riff with little to no internal consistency or logic.

In the first option, the characters you see for much of the movie don’t exist, even within the world of the film, and are purely manifestations of Haley (the little girl).  In the second, the world of the film is one where the characters DO exist, and are equally as important, if not more important, than Haley.

The same thing happens with Drop Dead Fred.  If you see Fred as nothing more than a visual manifestation of Lizzie’s Id, and she is ultimately the one with all of those thoughts and impulses, it is a nuanced tale of growth and ultimately female empowerment.

If you see it as a world where Imaginary friends truly exist and are there to be friends for the friendless (this would be a world similar to Pete’s Dragon) and can only be seen by the children they accompany, it’s an odd, disjointed and almost bipolar film with unsettling sexual undertones between Fred and Lizzie.

June and Jason saw the first movie.  Paul and Kacey saw the second.

It’s a great example of people seeing the exact same thing with vastly different, but equally valid, interpretations.

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It's the time for the (not so) exciting return of...

How Did This Get Named?

The last few movies have all either not had a name change or a changed one that isn't interesting enough to be mentioned (Deadfall is The Professional). However this movie I guess made its choice whether to be Team Fred or Team Sanity when it came out. At one point there was debate among the two teams who the focus of the movie was. Was it a story about Phoebe Cates or was it about Fred. Well, in Japan the movies is called.

ăƒ•ă‚ŁăƒŒăƒ“ăƒŒăƒ»ă‚±ă‚€ăƒ„ăź ç§ăźćœŒăŻć•éĄŒć… or Fiibii Keitsu no Watashi no Kare wa Dodonpa or Phoebe Cates's "My Boyfriend is a Problem Child"

Now this title there are a few things to unpack. One, her boyfriend/husband is cheating on her which is a problem but not a child. Also Fred is not her boyfriend nor is he a child. However he behaves like a child and made her a problem child so I guess that part kinda checks out. Second, Phoebe Cates's name is part of the title like it was a movie she made or something. Now this could be seen as a way of getting people in. Gremlins was big here so why not sell your movie using her name. However if think about it, this title puts Phoebe Cates's character front and center as the Team Fred people did talk about. So I guess Japan in Team Fred.

VGFbr00.jpg

I found this image and I remembered when they'd package DVDs like this. I thought it was kinda interesting. The bottom part was a separate paper that went in between the plastic shrink wrap and the DVD itself. It has the original poster, the name of the movie, the director and what they're known for and the cast and what they're known for. Then on the right is a little chart to tell you what kind of movie it is. So it's a five star scale and the categories they went with were "Fantasy", "Independence", "Misfortune", "Confession" and "Friendship." Fantasy, independence and friendship and get four our of five stars while misfortune and confession get three.

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This is the first time I've listened to an episode and felt the immediate need to watch the movie.  Having done so, I am firmly Team Sanity.  I can understand June's position, since we all have things that connected with us in childhood and formed an unbreakable bond.  As for Jason, I don't know what to say about someone who connected with this movie for the first time at age 46.  The most charitable explanation I can think of is that he's cynically trying to drum up interest in a remake in hopes of being cast as Fred.

On the question, "who is this movie for?":  I was 8 when Drop Dead Fred came out.  I didn't see it, but I do remember the marketing campaign, and feeling like it was supposed to be for me -- a zany comedy for kids.  In hindsight, that's insane.  This was also where I found Jason and June least convincing on the podcast -- they seemed to want to pull out the parts of the movie they found poignant and hand wave away the parts that made no sense as "well, it's a mainstream comedy" or "oh, there's magical realism," as if the filmmakers bear no responsibility for creating a tonally incoherent, disturbing mess of a movie.

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6 minutes ago, Rollo Tomasi said:

  As for Jason, I don't know what to say about someone who connected with this movie for the first time at age 46.  The most charitable explanation I can think of is that he's cynically trying to drum up interest in a remake in hopes of being cast as Fred.

 

I would respectfully suggest that this is a bit of a stretch

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6 minutes ago, Cockney Mackem said:

I would respectfully suggest that this is a bit of a stretch

I was joking about him actually having a hidden agenda, though he would be perfect if they remade.  (But please don't!)

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Can we get a Team Fred/Team Sanity poll on this thread?

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I didn't have any plans on rewatching this for the first time in 20+ years but this episode sold me on visiting it again. I'm very curious how I'll view this as an adult.

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Quote

 I would also hard agree that this is 100% not a kid’s movie.

Same; I remember seeing this movie as a kid and loving it largely because of the swearing. 

I did not enjoy my recent rewatch, so mark me for team sanity. However, seeing this movie again did clarify that I was misremembering a lot of scenes -- mixing them up with ones from Little Monsters (released two years prior). So that's something.

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Love the late Rik Mayall and Phoebe Cates but yeah, no interest in seeing this again. And this episode was really unpleasant to listen to, honestly.

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The villain of this movie is without question Lizzie's father.  He thinks Marsha Mason is being a terrible mother so his response is to walk out of Lizzie's life forever?  Dude is trash.

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TEAM FRED!

I think Fred is a manifestation of a specific problem experienced by Elizabeth. And yes, obviously, she is doing the things Fred is doing or at least imagined doing. 

The scene in the psychologist's office: I saw that scene as a representation of "the crazy in me recognizes the crazy in you." Perhaps the children imagining what it would be like to just cut loose with all the other kids.

And at the end, Fred was with another child who was having the same problems Elizabeth was experiencing. 

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19 minutes ago, ChunkStyle said:

The villain of this movie is without question LIzzie's father.  He thinks Marsha Mason is being a terrible mother so his response is to walk out of LIzzie's life forever?  Dude is trash.

source.gif

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Rik Mayall called it after they made it, when he said it was "too sentimental for over here [the UK] and too over-the-top for over there [the US]."

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TEAM FRED!

Ok, I dissagree with June and Jason, Fred is NOT a manifestation of Lizzie, but rather a real, magical being, but please all Team Fred members, let me explain why the movie is still great.

As a kid Lizzie is in the middle of a stressful life between her controlling mother and her father. Imaginary friends like Fred exist to help kids deal with this. That being said, Fred is excessive in his tricks and "games." Many kids act messy, destructive, or simply lightly perverted such as the way Fred looks up her mom's dress. Fred is, like all imaginary friends, visible only to his friend. There are, of course exceptions to this, because "imaginary friends" can see and interact with each other, just like in the waiting room. Each kid was shown only seeing their own I-F (imaginary friend)

Now, Polly got lucky and captured Fred and this negatively affected Lizzie and she "grew up" without having experienced many immaturities that do actually develop well balanced adults. Once Fred is released, the controlling mother and boyfriend tried to repress the balanced adult Fred is finally, although extremely excessively, finally helping her to be.

On the not that Fred is real, though, he is doing and accomplishing things that Lizzie is physically unable to do, from the standpoint that she is physically in the wrong location to accomplish them.

Finally, the girl in the end is seen with Fred, and Lizzie recognizes all the signs  having had Fred as her imaginary friend, and smiles because she also realizes what Fred represents in the development of the child.

            Geostorm!

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