Thursday, November 1, 2012

This Is A Thing That Exists!: Freddie As F.R.O.7.


I have no words...

Okay, that's a lie. I probably have lots of words, and since you're evidently going to read them here, prepare yourself, because I'm quite sure they won't be making all that much sense. I just finished watching a movie called Freddie as F.R.O.7 about a frog secret agent voiced by Ben Kingsley, and it might just be the weirdest fucking thing I've ever seen in my life. I am dumb founded. I didn't know what series I would place this under on my blog when I started watching it, or even if it was going to be worth writing about at all, but now that I've survived it, all I can say about Freddie As F.R.O.7 is...This, Is A Thing, That Exists!

My favorite movie of all time is The Secret of NIMH, and if I have one blind spot when it comes to movies and film criticism, it's animation, and in particular traditional hand drawn animation. It takes a lot for me to hate an animated movie. That's not to say there aren't many I very much dislike, but even the lesser ones possess a certain charm, or at least have some element I can latch onto to appreciate, if only from a position of nostalgia for a slowly dying medium. Freddie As F.R.O.7 isn't a bad movie, or anything close to a good movie. I'm not even sure it's a movie to be quite honest. I don't know if it's an experiment in absurdest or dada-esque storytelling, or just eight movies mashed together at the script stage and morphed into some unrecognizable monster of a thing. I have no frame of reference for this, nothing to appreciate on any level.



I tracked this movie down solely based on the fact that when I first heard of its existence, it was reportedly the lowest grossing theatrically released animated film of all time, though apparently it has since been overtaken in this record by a movie called Delgo which I have not seen. The story follows a young French Prince with poorly defined and inconsistent psychic powers who is turned into a frog by his shapeshifting witch Aunt, only to escape with the help of his new friend Nessie the Loch Ness Monster (living off the coast of France for some reason), and then after living among frogs, he grows up, literally to the size of a man, and then at some point in an interval of time we don't see, becomes France's top secret agent. All of this happens in the first ten or so minutes of the film in a flashback before we see anything else, and it is both simple and easy to understand, and entirely incomprehensible, all at the same time.

I feel like my ability to explain the insanity of this movie as something unique and horrifying is inadequate. Freddie As F.R.O.7 is the Tommy Wiseau's The Room of animated movies. It is an amalgam of non-sequiters jumbled together into something that only just barely resembles a narrative structure, where what happens from one minute to the next has no necessary bearing on anything that may have happened before or will happen next. Sometimes people fight, sometimes they sing a song, and sometimes a line up of goosestepping Nazi's has a parade with the Klu Klux Klan. That's not some crazy fucking bit of nonsense I just made up and threw on the end there. That happens in this movie. The main villain, an evil snake, has apparently cobbled together an army of all the evil organizations in the world, and at one point Nazis and Klansmen dance for her.

Oh, and her plan involves stealing famous British monuments so she can shrink them down to doll house size and sap the "life energy" generated by their history and what they represent to the people of Europe, so as to create a country wide sleeping spell, so her fleet of submarines can invade. Luckily, after singing a song about how she's shy, Nessie comes back with her family of Loch Ness monsters to help stop them. There are other characters, I think. Freddie has a team, a Scottish inventor and a karate expert human love interest. He barely speaks and she is oddly sexualized for what I assume is a kid's movie, even flashing her bare breasts at one point (away from the screen to be tasteful I suppose). He's also got a car with a face on it that's alive and I think maybe in love with him, which is never explained, but it doesn't matter because it disappears half way through the movie. Other characters are introduced as though they are important and then aren't, like a band of wacky(?) crows who jive talk about something or other, and a spy voiced by Jonathan Pryce who has no bearing on anything, as if anything in the movie does. The main trio isn't well developed, but it's not like you'll watch this movie and think, "this would be so much better if I knew more about these characters." There is no better here. There is only pain.

Also, there's a giant snake robot that passes by like the imperial carrier from Star Wars and spits a giant telekinetic penis out of its mouth. This movie was in theaters. At some point in the early 90's, someone paid money to see this on a giant screen. This movie came out in 1992. Batman Returns came out in 1992. I don't know if you remember, but when the original Burton Batman movies were out, it was an event, and yet one has to imagine that at least one person went to his local theater and passed up a chance to see Batman Returns, to see Freddie As F.R.O.7. You know what else came out in 1992? Cool World. The movie where Gabriel Burns fucks a cartoon Kim Basinger was out at the same time as this movie, and this is still somehow the more insane animated misfire of that year. I'm sitting down right now, and I have to sit down after this. Do I have to say Ben Kingsley is terrible in it? His accent is...fuck it, sorry, I don't even think I have the energy anymore.

I typically don't use this space to talk about movies as good or bad. This isn't like my Cinema File reviews where I'm actually giving advice. I'm not recommending you see this movie, or that you avoid it. If I were, I'd say see it, just to establish a baseline for whether or not you have gone mad. If you can follow along with this without any trouble or any sense that you are in a world other than the real world, seek help immediately. This is a movie for crazy people. I know that doesn't sound particularly clever, but that's all I got. I mentioned The Room before, and being friends with probably the country's foremost expert on that film, I'm tempted to say I have it beat. This may just be the one movie that even the most cynical RiffTrax loving hipster can't ironically enjoy. The tagline for this movie might as well be "For Some Reason" because that's the explanation for 90% of it. Maybe it's genius. Maybe it contains the secret code to man's salvation. Why does the frog man have psychic powers? Why does anything have anything or do anything?

Help me, please...


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