It’s official, the Apocalypse is nigh. When films like Fred: The Movie are even considered for release, it’s hard not to despair for the future of mankind. It’s difficult to think of someone more eyeball-bleedingly irritating or as inherently punchable as Lucas Cruikshank.
Most of the time I spent watching Fred: The Movie, I completely zoned out because I was thinking of inventive ways to physically harm him, the world’s leading contender for “person who most needs to be punched in the neck”.
Fred Finklehorn is the creation of Cruikshank, whose Youtube videos have propelled him from obscurity (where presumably he’d been eroding the souls of his family) to an internet sensation, notching up a record 303 million page views and over 1.3 million subscribers. He might be unfamiliar to those in long trousers, but somewhere out there lies a dedicated pre-pubescent audience.
Fred is a 15 year old with some basic social interaction problems (none) and the most irritating voice in the world (sort of like a chipmunk on helium with its testicles caught on a doornail). He screams and throws temper tantrums at the least provocation – nearly everything results in him having catatonic episodes like a banshee having a conniption fit.
The audience reaction to Fred was a mixture of horror and stunned disbelief. The first four seconds had people literally recoiling in their seats. Fred is so effortlessly irritating it beggars belief. The plot (as far as there is one) sees Fred trying to woo his next door neighbour Judy (Pixie Lott, who’s clearly going to be regretting this for the rest of her career) without having an elementary understanding of how to talk to another human being. When Judy moves across town, Fred resolves to follow her, navigating the city’s treacherous bus routes whilst avoiding the school bully Kevin and the dreaded local woods. Hilarity does not ensue.
There are moments which give pause for thought. Is this instead a portrait of a mentally ill child, the product of a broken home? The only parenting he gets is from his negligent semi-comatose, permanently drunk mother (Siobhan Fallon) and his wrestler father (John Cena) who seems to appear only as a hallucination to dish out encouragement in the form of physical abuse. He’s picked on by the kid next door and more crucially, ostracised by his peers who treat him with undisguised contempt. That alone makes for rather uncomfortable viewing.
But far from generating sympathy, Fred’s so insufferable it’s impossible to wish anything other than harm to happen to him. Two scenes might raise a smile – one where Fred is mercilessly pelted with dodgeballs and one where John Cena smashes a vase into his head – schaedenfreude at its finest.
Watching Fred: The Movie is the cinematic equivalent of being stuck on a plane with a child simultaneously kicking the back of your chair and screaming in your face amplified a thousand times. Putting up with that for 90 minutes shall surely one day be outlawed by international treaty.