Freddie as F.R.O.7
Freddie as F.R.O.7 (also known as Freddie the Frog) is a 1992 British animated musical action fantasy comedy film written and directed by Jon Acevski, and starring the voice of Ben Kingsley. Inspired by bedtime stories Acevski told to his son about his favourite toy frog working as a secret agent, it is a parody of James Bond.
|Freddie as F.R.O.7|
|Directed by||Jon Acevski|
|Produced by||Jon Acevski|
|Written by||Jon Acevski|
|Music by||David Dundas|
|Edited by||Mick Manning|
Hollywood Road Films
|Distributed by||Rank Film Distributors|
|Box office||$1.1 million (US)|
The film was released in both the United Kingdom and the United States in the summer of 1992. It was negatively received by critics and audiences, with the American release in particular resulting in a box office bomb. It held the record of the lowest-grossing animated film at the US box office until The Ten Commandments in 2007, ironically also starring Ben Kingsley.
The tale begins in the Middle Ages at Monaco, Monte Carlo, France. It tells of Prince Frederic, who is a 10-year-old boy who lives with his father the king in a huge castle by the ocean at Monaco, and is taught magical powers. His mother, the queen, has been dead for over a year, drowned at sea in a storm. One day, while the two are out horse riding in the forest, Frederic loses his father who is thrown to his death from a great height (6 ft) after his mount is spooked by a strange red cobra. Frederic watches it slither away; he had never seen one of those in the forest before. Now an orphan, Frederic is taken in by his paternal aunt, Messina (Billie Whitelaw), who, as the king's sister, accedes to the throne, but only as regent (until her nephew comes of age to assume responsibility as the next ruler). Soon Frederic realizes that the cobra he saw in the forest was Messina (also responsible for conjuring up the storm that took the life of his mother) and rather than killing the young prince, she transformed him into a frog and tries to capture him. Soon, both fall from the castle window and into the raging ocean, and Frederic is saved in the jaws of a giant sea monster. The power-hungry Messina vows to rule the world and destroy Frederic. The monster really turns out to be Nessie (Phyllis Logan).
As Messina departs, Nessie's tail becomes trapped under a boulder. She befriends Frederic, who in turn uses his powers to free her tail from the boulder. Nessie takes him to dry land, and notes that if Frederic ever needs her, he could just whistle. Frederic then leaps into the night sky, jumping through time zones until the late 20th century and lands in a swamp full of frogs, where he would spend the rest of his childhood in his new life as Freddie the Frog.
Freddie eventually grows up to become a member of the French secret service, known as F.R.O.7. and also has an anthropomorphic car (the reason for which is never explained). He is then called to London, England by the British Secret Service, as some major famous buildings in the United Kingdom are vanishing. By the time Freddie arrives, Nelson's Column, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, St. Pauls Cathedral, and Stonehenge are already missing. Freddie meets the Brigadier G (Nigel Hawthorne). Freddie is also introduced to Agent Daphne Fortescue a.k.a. Daffers (Jenny Agutter), an Englishwoman who is an expert in martial arts, and Scotty, a Scotsman who is an expert with weapons. Things take a turn for the worse as Canterbury Cathedral disappears. Freddie also meets Trilby, a sneaky member of the secret service.
During a trip to Ascot, Freddie discovers that the villain capturing the buildings is called El Supremo (Brian Blessed), and he's working alongside Messina, who spends most of the time in her cobra form. Freddie also learns that El Supremo is planning to steal Big Ben next. Knowing Daffers and Scotty would not want to be taken, Freddie tells them the next target is Windsor Castle and they hide on Big Ben - and are promptly captured by a giant robotic snake. They go to a secret island in Scotland and discover that El Supremo plans to use the buildings by shrinking them to a size of a trophy and using them as batteries to a giant crystal, which will send a powerful sleeping virus across the world (starting with the UK), which will put people to sleep, allowing him to invade and enslave them. Scotty then freaks out as the last required building is captured: Edinburgh Castle.
Freddie and Scotty are thrown into a pool of sea monsters, while Daffers is taken to be brainwashed into a mindless follower and slave of El Supremo and Messina. El Supremo uses the crystal to send his sleeping virus all across Great Britain and the whole country shuts down. Freddie whistles and Nessie appears to save them both from being devoured, and Scotty is saved from drowning. Nessie shows her family to Freddie, who then asks them to help defeat El Supremo by submerging the patrolling submarines. Freddie and Scotty save Daffers from the snake guards in disguise and the three return to stop El Supremo from conquering the world. They have to battle an army of soldiers, but in the process, Daffers and Scotty come too close to the crystal's energy and fall unconscious. Freddie manages to infiltrate the crystal's energy with his mind powers and destroys it, but also falls unconscious. El Supremo and Messina (who are preparing to attack their next target - The United States) arrive to kill Freddie, but he, Daffers and Scotty defeat El Supremo by shrinking him down to an ant's size and trapping him in a matchbox.
A final battle then ensues between Freddie and Messina, who attacks by shape-shifting consecutively into a bat, hyena, scorpion, and boa. As Messina begins to crush Freddie in her boa form, Freddie remembers comforting words from his late father and finds the strength to escape and toss Messina into an electrical pole, where she is electrocuted (she survived in the original version and flies away, vowing revenge against Freddie). Brigadier G and his team arrive in time, and Trilby is discovered to be a spy for the villains. Britain is restored to normal and Freddie heads off to deal with some bad guys in the United States.
- Adrian Della Touche (British release) - Narrator
- James Earl Jones (American release) - Narrator
- Ben Kingsley - Freddie/Prince Frederic, a French prince. He is orphaned and turned into a frog by Messina and eventually becomes a member of the French secret service and the British secret service.
- Edmund Kingsley - Young Freddie
- Jenny Agutter - Daffers, a martial arts expert and Freddie's love interest
- Brian Blessed - El Supremo, the main villain responsible for capturing various monuments, which he plans to use to create a sleeping virus. He is also married to Messina, which would make him Freddie's uncle.
- Billie Whitelaw - Messina, Freddie's wicked power-hungry aunt who kills his parents, steals the throne and turns Freddie into a frog. She has the power to shape-shift into any animal, most notably a cobra.
- John Sessions - Scotty, a weapons inventor who befriends Freddie and Daffers / Additional Voices
- Phyllis Logan - Nessie, a Loch Ness monster that Freddie befriends as a frog. She assists him with escaping the sea in the climax of the film.
- Nigel Hawthorne - Brigadier G, the head of the British secret service
- Sir Michael Hordern - King, Freddie's father who is killed by his sister Messina
- Victor Maddern - Old Gentleman Raven
- Jonathan Pryce - Trilby, a sneaky member of the secret service
- Prunella Scales - Queen, Freddie's mother who was killed by Messina one year prior to the events of the film / Additional voices
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2014)
The film was inspired by bedtime stories Acevski told to his son about his favorite toy frog working as a secret agent.
It was filmed from 1989 to 1991.
Miramax Films purchased the film for distribution in North America. A week after its UK release, the film was released on 28 August 1992 in 1,257 theaters. It was initially set with a G rating by the MPAA, but was later rerated to PG due to complaints by parents in regards to the double entendres and racially sensitive elements. It was also released theatrically in Spain during the 1992 Christmas season. As a result of the disappointing U.S. box office, Miramax did not release the film on home video in the United States.
In 1995, MCA/Universal Home Video in conjunction with Shapiro-Glickenhaus Entertainment released the film on home video under an alternate re-edited version, under the title of Freddie the Frog with new narration from actor James Earl Jones. Nearly 20 minutes of footage (including double entendres) was cut and several sequences were re-edited. Racially sensitive elements were removed or changed, like the KKK-members and Nazi axis-like soldiers during the "Evilmainya" song sequence and the tourist and punk crows were re-dubbed, not only was this to make the film more family-friendly, but was also an attempt to make the movie less confusing to viewers. This re-edit of the film ended up with a G rating from the MPAA.
As of today, the film is still regarded as a highly obscure animated film, which to this day neither the original 1992 theatrical version or the 1995 re-edited version have seen a DVD or Blu-ray release (although rumors persist on copies of the 1995 re-edit are known to exist in some European countries, most notably in Netherlands and Hungary). However, both versions of the film, including the original and edited versions, can still be viewed on YouTube. The original 1992 theatrical version was owned by Paramount Pictures via Miramax Animation, while the 1995 re-edited version was owned by Amsell Entertainment.
Despite a large publicity campaign and huge media coverage of the film's production, Freddie as F.R.O.7 was both a critical and financial flop. The film received negative reviews in its home country and in North America when it was released there. Renowned animation critic Charles Solomon said, "this 21-gun stinker makes Saturday-morning television look good." He continued by saying "the improbable story is so full of gaps, it's difficult to believe writer-producer-director Jon Acevski ever read his own screenplay." Derek Elley of Variety said, "A shake 'n' bake mixture of virtually every toon genre going, it makes up in energy what it lacks in originality". "The movie, which bills itself as the most ambitious animated film ever to come out of Britain, is a convoluted adventure story that swirls classic fairy-tale mythology together with modern pop-cultural iconography into an unwieldy hodgepodge," said Stephen Holden of The New York Times.
The film flopped at the domestic box office as well, grossing little over $1 million. On 21 May 2007, AOL claimed the film is the lowest grossing animated film of all time by counting its US gross ($1,119,368), while as of August 2009, two widely released animated features, The Ten Commandments, which grossed $952,820 in 830 theaters (and also had Ben Kingsley) and Delgo ($694,782 / 2,160 theaters) have grossed less than F.R.O.7.
When the film was released, a proposed sequel, entitled Freddie Goes to Washington, was already in early production. There is little to no information on what the plot would have been like. However, it is speculated that after the events of the first movie, Freddie and his allies would have traveled to Washington D.C. to finally defeat Messina for good, and Freddie would've changed back into a human. Due to the disastrous critical and financial performance of the film, production was cancelled and the animation studio filed for bankruptcy shortly afterwards. As of 2016, no other information of Washington exists outside of a news article from 1992 anda few pencil tests which still can be seen on a YouTube video uploaded back in 2009; presumably from a former animator involved in the film's production.
- Freddie and F.R.O.7 at Box Office Mojo
- Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. p. 179. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
- AngelHeart. "Freddie as F.R.O.7. (1992)". YouTube. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
- Prime, Neo. "Freddie the Frog (1993) Full Movie". YouTube. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
- "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Freddie': Reptilian 007". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- "Review: "Freddie as F.R.O.7."". Variety. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
- "Review/Film; Frog Prince as James Bond, or Is That Poirot?". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- Beck, Jerry (2005). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. p. 88. ISBN 9781569762226. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
- Walters, Tony. "F.R.0.7 Freddie Goes to Washington Linetests". Retrieved 24 February 2016.
- Hicks, Christopher (28 August 1992). "`LITTLE NEMO,' `FREDDIE AS F.R.O.7.' MISS MARK". Deseret News. Deseret News Publishing Company. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
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