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Western Animation / Famous Fred

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Let's take a walk in the moonlight...

"Let's call her...Brenda!" *She checks the kitten's gender* "Oh no, lets call him...Fred."
Fred's owner names the soon-to-be famous cat

Famous Fred is a 1996 30-minute Animated Musical based on the picture book Fred by Posy Simmonds. It was made by the same people who created The Snowman.

The night after Fred the cat is buried at the bottom of the garden after dying from cat flu, the children of the family sneak outside and stumble across the cat community having a funeral for him. For Fred was no ordinary cat; he was pretty much the cat version of Elvis. Kenneth, the family's guinea pig and Fred's manager, tells the story of Fred's rise and fall. After leaving the opera house, Kenneth moved into the house and taught Fred stardom, but after they both embark on the 'Famous Fred World Tour' Fred falls into bad habits, and eventually catches the illness that's the death of him. Then everyone goes inside to party to a bootleg of his final song, and scarper, leaving Kenneth to tidy up. But has Fred really used up all nine of his allotted lives?


The story is interspersed with Fred's songs, sung by Lenny Henry who also voiced Fred. For tropers in the UK, the film can be seen here. A Vimeo version is here.


  • Anthropomorphic Animal Adaptation: Is it fair to say this is one of Elvis' whole life?
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • A vet bill for Chronically Chapped lips? Really? Certainly nowhere near as bad as worms or the cat flu.
    • Kenneth coming into the room to tell him that his trousers are creased is also much less of a problem than Fred's overeating and penchant for womennote .
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  • Artistic License – Medicine: Cats don't really get cat flu from "overdoing it". Cat flu is normally caused a virus although some strains of bacteria can carry it too, and it is spread by infected cats or rarely carriers. Also, cat flu does not cause the cat to swagger the way Fred was doing.
  • Canon Foreigner: Zigzagged for Kenneth. In the book, Sophie and Nick did not have a guinea pig, although there was a grave for one, however, in the cartoon, Kenneth is alive and well.
  • Cat Concerto: Fred's job was to sing to other cats on the street.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: Kenneth seems to think so, anyway.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Three costume changes in one song.
  • Downer Beginning: How many other kids' movies begin with a pair of teary-eyed siblings mourning the loss of their beloved pet?
  • Expy: Fred is obviously one of Elvis.
  • Faking and Entering: After Fred wrecks the living room, he sleeps in the middle of the room to convince the family they've been burgled instead.
  • Faking the Dead: At the end, Kenneth realises Fred still has one of his nine lives left...
  • Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal: The animals either wear no clothes (when they're around humans) or go about fully dressed.
  • Gender-Blender Name: As the page quote shows, Fred narrowly dodged one.
  • Good-Times Montage: Subverted. It seems like a Good Time Montage for Fred at first, but Kenneth knows he's overdoing it, and eventually he catches the Cat Flu.
  • Groin Attack: Fred accidentally does the splits on a car and, well in his own words...
    Fred: I've hurt my bits!
  • It's All My Fault: Kenneth blames himself for not realising when Fred was going downhill. (And probably for starting him down that road in the first place)
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: In-universe example. Kenneth never recorded any tapes of Fred singing, but Ginger (the cat in charge of the funeral) secretly recorded Fred's latest song. Kenneth isn't too happy, since he wasn't consulted about it.
  • Lazy Bum: Zigzagged for Fred. He's described as the "laziest cat in the world", but he seems pretty active when he's being a singer.
  • Musical Pastiche: Apart from all the Elvis-esque songs, there 's very 70's Bee Gees-esque disco music in the party scene.
  • Nearly Normal Animal: The animals are pets to the humans, speak, walk on all fours, sometimes wear clothes, sometimes don't wear clothes, and have some human-like values and some animal-like ones.
  • Really Gets Around: Fred. Since this is a children's film, it's only implied. It's implied when several kittens who have different moms say, "He's my dad."
  • Running Gag: Kenneth's jeans are way too loose around the waist, causing them to keep falling down.
  • Shaking the Rump: Fred does this by accident when Kenneth tells him to shake his belly but shakes his rump instead.
    Kenneth: "Wiggle your belly... not your bum!"
  • Shout-Out: Elvis, obviously. Then there's the shout-out to hippies, Prince and Elton John in the makeover montage.
  • Sick Episode: Fred gets the cat flu, which is supposedly what killed him.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Implied for Kenneth. The only mention of a guinea pig we get in the book is "Nearby are the graves of a guinea pig and a beetle which Sophie and Nick marked with stones", however, this guinea pig is alive and well.
    • Also implied for Fred. When Kenneth says that Fred has only lost eight lives, a cat who looks an awful lot like Fred walks past.
  • Stock Footage: They tend to re-use shots of the backing singing cats a lot, in the same song.
  • That Was Not a Dream: The kids were never under any illusion about it being a dream, but finding the tombstone at the end of the garden proves it to the viewer.
  • Toilet Humour: While this cartoon leaves out the "sometimes he did wees on Mrs Spedding's flowers and she was cross" gag, Kenneth does mention Sophie and Nick's mother taking Fred out to "do his business".
  • Uncertain Doom: Fred seemed dead and he was pretty much confirmed to be buried, but that did look an awful lot like Fred at the end.
  • Unnamed Parent: Sophie and Nick's parents are unnamed.
  • Viva Las Vegas!: Fred ends up in Las Vegas during his world tour, playing to packed venues.
  • Weirdness Censor: The mother of the family doesn't seem to think too much about Kenneth having a little suitcase, although she did look pretty confused about it.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Elvis' life. Surprised?


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