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Today's Date is:

Drop Dead Fred

Reviewed by: David Litton
Genre: Comedy
Video: 1.33:1 fullframe
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
Language: English
Subtitle: English (cc)
Length: 103 min
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: 07/22/2003
Studio: Artisan Home Entertainment
Commentary: None
Documentaries: None
Featurettes: None
Filmography/Biography: None
Interviews: None
Trailers/TV Spots: None
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: None
Music Video: None
Other: None
Cast and Crew: Phoebe Cates, Rick Mayall, Marsha Mason, Tim Matheson, Carrie Fisher, Ron Eldard
Written By: Carlos Davis, Anthony Fingleton
Produced by: Paul Webster
Directed By: Ate de Jong
Music: Randy Edelman
The Review:

Imagination can be a good when, if you know how to use it. In "Drop Dead Fred," the filmmakers supply us with enough creativity to fill ten movies, but it's how they channel it that affords the film its many attributes as well as its weaknesses. The story introduces us to Elizabeth (Phoebe Cates), a young woman who in the wake of losing her job, her car, and her cheating husband (Tim Matheson) in one afternoon, is forced to move back in with her domineering mother. Once there, she is revisited by her childhood imaginary friend, Drop Dead Fred (Rik Mayall), invisible to the rest of the world, but very real to her, and able to cause all sorts of mayhem while making her look like a complete psycho as she repeatedly utters, "Drop Dead Fred did it." ***

In all honesty, I was expecting something appalling as I watched the film, but while the film doesn't always work and has more than its share of failures, it's not without a sense of inspired comic lunacy. This is mostly the result of Mayall's all-or-nothing approach to the titular character's abundant sight gags and verbal jeers (after catching a glimpse of the view up Elizabeth's mother's skirt, he remarks coyly, "Cobwebs!"). While parents might be tempted to allow their youngsters to watch for Mayall's antics, this is in no way meant for the tots. Near-continuous vulgarities and innuendos make this a more adult trip down memory lane, one replete with unnecessary subplots involving Elizabeth's attempts to fixed her failed marriage. If only the film would have stuck to its guns and just let Mayall work his magic, then "Drop Dead Fred" might have been a better-than-average as opposed to better-than-nothing.

Image and Sound

The 1.33:1 fullframe transfer for "Drop Dead Fred" looks better than it could have been, but doesn't come out completely unscathed, either. For one thing, contrast looks a bit flat and shadow detail is mediocre at best, while detail is acceptable but needs some improvement. The source print is in decent shape, although film grain runs rampant throughout. Color saturation is good, though, with almost no bleeding to mar the proceedings. Gets the job done, but just barely. ***

The sound is mastered in Dolby 2.0 Surround, and holds its own nicely. The music has been given some ambient flow into the surround channels, while the sparse sound effects are separated adequately in the front channels. Dialogue sounds fairly natural, and there is little-to-no .1 LFE engagement during the entire film.

The Extras Considering the popularity of the film amongst those who grew up with it and remember it, "Drop Dead Fred" is receiving a minimalist DVD release, with no extras to speak of.
Commentary None
Final Words: so-so movie that's not quite sure of itself, "Drop Dead Fred" has a handful of solid laughs that are worth the trip. Fans will appreciate the film's release on DVD, but the lack of extras might be disappointing.

Send all Comments to Teakwood Productions
July 20, 2003