I think we can all agree that, if we were lonely enough well into adulthood to adopt a fictional best friend to accompany us on our non-existent life adventures, away from those ordinary assholes with real jobs and real families, most of us would probably choose one of the Young Ones. For one, not a one of them would complain about your shithole apartment, considering the Young Ones lived in the shitiest shithole that ever holed a shit. Secondly, they are British, which makes them exotic and cultured even when they are saying stupid things (assuming you’re a dumb American). Thirdly, they all present possibilities for comedic adventures, and a comedic adventure with an invisible friend is a good way to distract yourself when you’re sitting alone in your bedroom.
Each Young One has their own individual benefits and drawbacks. Neil the hippie can no doubt scrounge up some weed on a moment’s notice, even if it amounts to having to resort to eating marijuana residue that has long since hardened into a marijuana tortilla chip of some sort. Vyvyan will beat up annoying people at the drop of a hat, but will also inevitably destroy something during an impromptu slam dance party. Mike might lure you into some harebrained financial scheme and force you to sell your collection of Godzilla action figures to pay off a debt to a teamster with two teeth and one eye, but will also have an inroad to a hot date with an impressionable teenage girl who is coked out of her gourd and might be sixteen.
Notice I didn’t mention Rick the poseur. Nobody likes a poseur. Poseurs are the lamest people in the world. In fact, they are beneath the lame. At least when the biggest REO Speedwagon fan in the world gets an REO Speedwagon tramp stamp and shows if off to his co-workers at the office, he’s at least owning that shit. Rick stomps his feet, insisting he’s punk rock, but even an old fuddy duddy who don’t know Crass from a hole in the ground knows Rick ain’t no punk rocker. Also, the dude is fucking annoying. Just listen to him talk for the love of the queen. It’s wonderful for a certain kind of sitcom shtick (The Young Ones), but imagine living with the dude, then imagine living with the dude inside of your head. You’d blow your head off with a shotgun while jumping out of a moving train.
Anyways, Phoebe Cates is having a bad day. She is fired from her job as a court stenographer for being late, which begs the question; why do we even need court stenographers anymore? If people can shoot a movie on their phones, I think we can figure out how to record courtroom audio without forcing some poor lady to type like a madman on crank for hours on end.
gratuitous product placement
If that wasn’t bad enough, she finds out that her sleazebag husband Tim Matheson has been cheating on her. He puts it back on her by saying “we’re not going to throw away 2 years because I was cheating, are we?” What an asshole. Oh, and they’ve been married for three years, by the way. Also, Matheson is a Jaguar salesman. You know what kind of people sell Jaguars? Jags. It’s in the name so you don’t forget. How convenient. Oh, and he cheated ON PHOEBE FUCKING CATES. Who the fuck cheats on Phoebe Cates? It’s Phoebe Cates, for god’s sake! Phoebage is a meal I can sink my face into morning, noon and night and never get tired of it. Yes, I use the term Phoebage. I may have coined it.
Well, Phoebe moves back in with her mother because she no longer has a life without a man. Essentially reverting back to childhood, she opens a taped up jack-in-the-box and out pops her childhood imaginary friend played by Rick of The Young Ones. I think every jack-in-the-box should be sealed. Not because annoying poseurs are liable to jump out at any moment, but because no childhood was ever improved by a creepy clown or especially that horrible song so what’s the point.
The joke is that Phoebe sees Drop Dead Fred (DDF for short) instigating unruly shenanigans while others don’t. Sometimes she yells at him for being a stupid asshole and everyone else around her wonders why she’s yelling at air. I guess hilarity ensues if you find that funny. But what I take issue with is the DDF character himself. Rick was funny being an annoying poseur on The Young Ones in the context of a poseur thinking he isn’t a poseur, surrounded by other great characters to play off of. Here, DDF aims to annoy and does so repeatedly. There’s no Schadenfreude, or layers, or pathos, or insert big time drama word. It’s just a dude rubbing boogers on people. Annoying people can be funny in the context of those who are annoyed and the fact that he doesn’t know he’s annoying. An incredibly annoying guy that aims to be annoying is about as funny as any Holocaust documentary of your choice (I’m going with The Sorrow and the Pity).
Regardless, Phoebe’s ultimate goal is to get back with Matheson even though he is a total cheating jag scumbag (scumjag). She justifies this by saying “he can be sweet sometimes”. All women say this about the scumbags they are dating. Yes, he can be sweet. It’s because he read a manual entitled “How to Get Laid”, which states that you have to act sweet in order to get laid. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; if a dude was actually sweet, he wouldn’t be cheating on you and occasionally punching you in the head. He’d probably be treating you like a human being.
The film ultimately pays lip service to the idea that DDF helps Phoebs (I’m pretty sure I'm not the first to call her that) overcomes her fears and reliance on jagholes. But it comes across as almost a deus ex machina, a sudden reversal of her hiding from her problems and the reality of adulthood by gallivanting with a crazy asshole wearing clothes so loud they would cause synaptic nerve damage if not for the fact that they’re invisible. If she had really, truly overcome her fears, she would stick a makeshift icepick into the neck of her imaginary friend and knee her ex in the balls so hard his future kids will have aching balls for miles. But maybe I’m idealistic.
Special thanks to the anonymous pervert responsible for the Radioactive Lingerie Tumblr, which was the source for the Phoebe pics.