The Freddie as F.R.0.7. Day Thread is Real (I promise)

On this day 30 years ago, Freddie as F.R.0.7. opened in US theaters. There’s a very good chance you’ve never even heard of this movie, but I promise you it’s real. A UK animated feature, the film starts as a loose version of the story of The Frog Prince before it turns into…a James Bond movie. Like, he’s a prince in a fairy tale who is turned into a frog. And then he becomes the greatest secret agent in all of Great Britain. And he saves the world. And I haven’t even gotten to the weird stuff yet. Again, real movie.

The film was supposedly inspired by bedtime stories its director used to tell their son (which would explain its incredibly nonsensical nature). It was also notable for having a PG rating at a time when animated movies almost never got them. Yes, yes, these days all animated movies get PG ratings for seemingly no good reason (seriously, you need “parental guidance” to watch Arthur Christmas?). But back then it was a different ballgame. If an animated film had a PG rating in those days, it was usually doomed at the box office, which Freddie ultimately was. Confusingly, there is marketing from the time promoting it with a G rating, since the film was apparently re-rated following complaints over the movie’s sex jokes (yes, there are sex jokes) and animated violence. This makes finding a poster for the movie with the accurate rating incredibly difficult (but one day I will find one on eBay).

Freddie as F.R.0.7. was the lowest-grossing animated film ever at the time to open on more than 1,000 screens (a “record” that Delgo now holds), so distributor Miramax actually declined to give the movie a home video release as they felt there was no market for a cartoon adventure that had outraged the few parents who saw it over scenes in which its heroine briefly flashes Freddie (which is something that totally happens, by the way). You may be going “but Scrat, I watched this movie on home video as a kid.” And you would be right. Kind of.

You see, Universal picked up the home distribution rights three years later in 1995…and they absolutely butchered the film, trimming more than 20 minutes, cutting all violence (and I mean all violence) and naughty jokes, and earning the movie a G rating. But that’s not all they did. They added James Earl Jones as a narrator (“hey, the kids loved him in The Lion King!”). They removed entire plot threads. They added entire new ones in incredibly bizarre ways. And they took the fairy tale prologue (which is no one’s favorite part of this film) and made it takes up nearly half the movie. Because thanks to all of the trims, Freddie the Frog (as it was now titled) ran only about an hour. Most of the actual plot–the James Bond stuff–was removed. BLASPHAMY!

Fortunately, on YouTube, the original British version (sadly without the Miramax logos) has emerged in its entirety, although the quality isn’t terrific, it’s the best we have available (at least here in the states, as it did make it onto tubes in the UK). Think of this as the Flash Gordan of animated movies–like that film, it’s certainly a mess. But it’s an awesome kind of mess. And I kind of love it (and like Flash Gordon, the movie also bizarrely contains Nazis, so if that doesn’t sound like your thing, don’t watch this and stick with the 1995 cut):

Also a sequel called Freddie Goes to Washington was already in production before the film’s release. Obviously it was cancelled, but some early animation tests did emerge online…

Have a great day, Avocados! Also thanks to Longbox Jockey, who I’m pretty sure gave up their slot so I could have this today.