Freddie as F.R.O.7
|Freddie as F.R.O.7|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jon Acevski|
|Produced by||Jon Acevski
|Written by||Jon Acevski
|Narrated by||Adrian Della Touche (British release)
James Earl Jones (American release)
|Music by||David Dundas
|Edited by||Mick Manning
Hollywood Road Films
|Distributed by||The Rank Organisation (UK)
Miramax Family Films (US)
|Running time||91 minutes
72 minutes (American edit)
Freddie as F.R.O.7 (released in North America as Freddie the Frog) is a 1992 British animated musical action fantasy film written and directed by Jon Acevski. It is a parody of James Bond. The film was inspired by bedtime stories Acevski told to his son about his favourite toy frog working as a secret agent.
The tale takes place in the Middle Ages alike world at Monaco, Monte Carlo, France. It tells of Prince Frederic, who is 10 year old boy who lived with his kingly father in a huge castle by the ocean at Monaco, Monte Carlo, France and was 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 Frederic comes of age to assume responsibility as the next ruler when she must step down. 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 tried 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 departed, Nessie's tail became trapped under a boulder. She befriended Frederic, who in turn used his powers to free her tail from the boulder. Nessie took him near dry land, and notes that if Frederic ever needed her, he would whistle. Frederic then leaped into the night sky, jumped through time zones until the late 20th century and fell into 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 as he left Paris, France. Nelson's Column, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, St. Pauls Cathedral, and Stonehenge are already missing. Freddie meets the Brigadier G (Nigel Hawthorne), who seems to have trouble keeping himself and his comrades from getting tangled up in the phone cord. Freddie is introduced to 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, 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 won't 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 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 high up. Messina is then turned into a buzzard and vows to get revenge on Freddie one day before fleeing. 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 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 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 requires expansion. (March 2014)|
The film was inspired by bedtime stories Acevski told to his son about his favourite toy frog working as a secret agent.
Miramax Films purchased the film for distribution in North America. A week after its UK release, the film was released on August 28, 1992 in 1,257 theatres. It was released with a PG rating, an incredibly uncommon move for an animated feature at the time. It was also released theatrically in Spain during the 1992 Christmas season. A contributing factor to its failure was that animated features produced by independent companies, in this case Hollywood Road Film Productions, tended to be commercial disappointments at the time while Disney was at its peak with its new releases. Hollywood Road Film, and other studios like Sullivan Bluth Studios, couldn't compete with the universal acclaim of Disney and their animated pictures.
This film also has a very small cult following.
In 1995, MCA/Universal Home Video released the film on home video under an alternate re-edited version, under the title of Freddie the Frog with new narration from James Earl Jones. Odds and ends (including moments of conversation) were cut and sequences were re-edited, supposedly in the hope to make the film easier to follow. Potentially 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.
It is still a very little known animated film, which to this date has never been released on DVD in the original 1992 UK version nor the 1995 US re-edit (although copies of the 1995 re-edit are known to exist in the Netherlands and Hungary).
Despite a large publicity campaign and huge media coverage of the film's production, Freddie as F.R.O.7 was a critical and financial flop. The film also received unfavorable 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 on North American screens 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 theatres (and also had Ben Kingsley) and Delgo ($694,782 / 2,160 theatres) have grossed less than F.R.O.7.
A sequel, intitled Freddie Goes to Washington, was already placed into production just as the film was being released. Due to the disastrous critical and financial performance of the film, production was cancelled and no other information of Washington exists outside of virally shared pencil tests.