Little more than a jejune laudation of insolence and xenophobia, Clay Weiner's Fred: The Movie is so ensconced in infantility that even its oftentimes-unassuming illiberalisms read as too comfortably callow to be anything other than obnoxious. Starring Lucas Cruikshank - whose preposterously popular YouTube series about six year-old Fred Figglehorn served as inspiration for David A. Goodman's puerile script - in a now-nine-years-older reprisal of the role that launched him into the viral stratosphere, Fred examines its principle's superficially-founded obsession with classmate/neighbor Judy (Pixie Lott), about whom he flippantly refers to as his girlfriend - a form of implied ownership that's wholly unbeknownst to her, yet is meant to be more endearing than disturbing to audiences. And although his aggressively energetic outbursts still remain the cornerstone of his personality, it's this idée fixe of he and Judy's mutual magnetism that comes across as his most repugnant quality: Fred's grasp on reality is so damningly delusional that he knows not of the veritable hell he puts others through and, solely because he's the film's focal point, we're unabashedly asked to empathize with him. Of course, the built-in fan base that made Fred's the third most popular YouTube channel to date accommodates a certain level of success to which quality is mutually exclusive; as such, Nickelodeon has already committed to a sequel, though no airdate is currently set.
Aside from an aside about how covetable a five-day weekend would be, the movie opens with Fred following Judy and her mother on their drive home from school. He camouflages himself behind trashcans, bushes and the like - a caveat to the graceless physical humor that indwells the work - and fervently checks off each intersection they simultaneously occupy. He calls the act, "Walking home with my girlfriend Judy," and he does it daily. And while even I can infer the optimistic essence of this otherwise cloying custom, I still see it as indicative of how Fred abjures amelioration by refusing to face his own failings. Instead, in a manner ironically befitting his internet origins, Fred keeps the real world at arm's length and, by proxy, encourages kids to do the same. Sure, his daydreams are hardly detrimental: pretend patriarch John Cena is often inspiring and Derf, his antipodal persona, coaches him toward composure. But by the film's finale these lessons are all-but forgotten, as our protagonist practices pretense in order to procure popularity. Rather than realize his place within the world or recognize his relation to others, he, with the help of his other neighbor Bertha (Jennette McCurdy), cons his class into thinking that he threw the party of the year after disdainfully disinviting them all. And what's worse, he notices not Bertha's generosity or genuineness and ultimately sacrifices her like a pawn to capture queen Judy. Naturally, it should go without saying that these actions are not to be reflected onto Fred - after all, he's still in many ways a child - but the indolently indifferent filmmakers who try to hit upon humor with, among other missteps, archaically uncouth depictions of homosexuals and the absurdity that's apparently inherent in encountering non-English speakers. By attempting to interject an internet institution into a workable world model, Weiner and company have created something that's even more insufferable than I had imagined...and we have a follow-up to look forward to.