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'Drop Dead Fred' Is A Bizarre Fever Dream That's Even Darker Than You Remember

Updated December 5, 2018 105.5k views11 items

In 1991, kids fell in love with an imaginary friend. But Drop Dead Fred (DDF), although a beloved film from the decade, also deserves a spot on a list of messed-up and disturbing '90s kids' movies. The title character, played by Rik Mayall, imaginary pal to Elizabeth "Lizzie" Cronin (Phoebe Cates), is lewd, rebellious, and wacky. Audiences adored him, though, and also loved the movie a lot more than critics did. After re-watching the film as an adult, however, you realize Drop Dead Fred is one of those movies about mental health that we probably should have questioned or taken more seriously at the time.

Many scenes from the film feature disturbing behaviors and situations. After considering some of the more problematic parts of the movie, you might rethink the movie's place in your memory as a favorite childhood film. Or question the innocence of a childhood imaginary friend, especially if he returns when you're an adult. 

  • Fred Spends A Lot Of Time Looking Up Women's Skirts

    Granted, Fred is a very crass imaginary friend, to begin with. However, his constant need to look up women's skirts and comment on the "view" from his exploits pushes things too far, though.

    Not only does this joke fall flat, but the writers inserted it a few too many times throughout the film. 

  • Elizabeth Likely Suffers From Mental Health Issues

    As a child, Lizzie has issues: her parents' divorce and her mom is controlling. As an adult, Lizzie still has a lot going on: her husband leaves her, she loses her job, and she has to move back in with her controlling mother. These are all problems that can understandably lead to severe mental distress. One movie critic believed Lizzie suffers from "mental illness, emotional abuse, and chronic depression."

    Her problems require more than slapstick attempts at help from an imaginary sidekick. 


  • Lizzie's Repressed Real Self Is Kind Of Terrifying

    If Fred represents Lizzie's "inner child" acting out, her true self isn't pleasant either, considering his penchant for lechery, destruction, and crudeness. Lizzie's inner demons seem only to create more havoc in her already fractured life.

    She might need therapy to work on whatever she's repressing. 

  • The Hate Towards Polly Is Too Extreme 

    Polly (Marsha Mason) is not the ideal mother. After her divorce, she blames Lizzie for her husband leaving and becomes a very controlling single parent. Even so, the film's constant referrals to her as "the Megab*tch" are excessive.

    And Fred and Lizzie's talk of cutting off her head with chainsaws, chopping up her body and eating it, then pooping it out, is downright disturbing.