Jen Juneau
December 28, 2016 7:28 am
New Line Cinema

Like most people, the biggest pop-culture character I associate with the late and great Carrie Fisher is her role as Leia Organa in the Star Wars series. Through the original Star Wars trilogy (and later, The Force Awakens), she helped create a feminist icon lauded across the globe for her tenacity, wit, toughness, and penchant for generally getting shit done.

But the first movie I saw starring Carrie Fisher wasn’t A New Hope. It was this little 1991 comedy called Drop Dead Fred. This movie was, to 6-year-old me, everything: A grown-up woman named Lizzie, played by the wonderful Phoebe Cates, can’t shake off an imaginary friend (the always-ebullient Rik Mayall, may he also rest in peace), but learns a lesson along the way about how to stand up for herself against a manipulative husband and mother to become the independent woman we know is waiting inside to shine.

Another character who helps Lizzie come to this realization is her pal Janie, played by Fisher. Janie was the brash, take-no-excuses, more mature friend we all needed when we were coming into our own in our early twenties. She knows the ropes of relationships — and isn’t afraid to tell us when our judgment is clouded.

Janie’s storyline in terms of Lizzie’s life in the movie starts when the latter is struggling to leave her aforementioned good-for-nothing husband, and Janie tells it to her gently, albeit straight.

Later, after Fred comes back into Lizzie’s life, Lizzie visits Janie at her boathouse (because she’s badass enough to live in a boathouse — one that may or may not sink later because of Fred’s carelessness, but that’s a hilarious aside that you must watch the movie for) at 3 a.m. And instead of freaking out about lost sleep, Janie is a great friend and listens intently to Lizzie’s story about her imaginary friend — and instead of scoffing in disbelief, she stays mostly silent until Lizzie refers to Fred as her best friend.

A best friend who doesn’t judge us for having an imaginary pal as an adult, argues to STAY being our best friend, and proceeds to let us sleep on the couch to avoid said imaginary pal when it’s the only night of the month her hush-hush boyfriend is there overnight? BFF goals.

Janie’s most iconic moment, though, is when she leaves a work meeting to take Fred out of the room and attempt to beat him to a pulp even though she can’t see him. As the audience, we know Fred got out of that chair a long time ago, but it’s the thought that counts. And if an imaginary dude sunk our boathouse, we’d be too mad to double check before we started throwing punches, too. And shoes. And fists. And words we’d regret very shortly.

Plus, we knew we loved her from the very beginning, as one of the first lines she says in the movie is something we have all learned in one way or another.

If that’s true — and deep down, we know it is — we’re all currently getting very interesting over here, through our rivers of tears. We miss you, Carrie. Thanks for giving us so many strong female characters to look up to, and the greatest one of all in the person you were in real life.

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