Freaky Friday
Grade: B+
Year: 2003
Director: Mark Watters
Writers: Mary Rodgers & Heather Hach
Genre: Comedy
Rated: PG
By Scott Spicciati

Let the record show, “Freaky Friday” is not the first movie about two conflicted characters who switch bodies to learn invaluable lessons. In fact, this isn’t the first movie called “Freaky Friday,” but one of Disney’s many remakes, starting with the 1977 film starring Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster. The body-switching theme continued with Disney’s TV spin “Wish Upon a Star” with Katherine Heigl (My Father the Hero) and Danielle Harris (The Wild Thornberries).

Tess Coleman (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a psychiatrist with a long list of disturbed patients, although her own family is going through the rough as well. Her daughter Anna (Lindsay Lohan) isn’t happy that her mother is already remarrying after the recent death of her father. Ryan (Mark Harmon) will try to win Anna’s heart as the new step-father. Then there is Harry (Ryan Malgarini), the kid brother who never stops fighting with Anna and doesn’t think she likes him very much.

When the family gathers at a Chinese restaurant for what seems like an ordinary night out, a curse is put on Anna and Tess by the restaurant family's grandmother (Lucille Soong). When the two wake up the next day, they disturbingly find out that they’ve switched bodies.

But of course, rather than take the day off to figure out how to switch back, Tess and her daughter risk the day in their new bodies. Tess will go to Anna’s school where we she will learn how bullies pick on her as well as a teacher who holds a grudge against her because her mother (Tess) denied his request to go to the prom with him back when they were in high school. Likewise, Anna will go to her mother’s work and play psychiatrist for a day and see firsthand the kind of patients her mother works with. Things get rough when Anna is expected to talk about her mother’s book on a live talk show and Tess has to entertain Anna’s crush (Chad Murray) even though she doesn’t approve of him.

What we have here now is a tired concept executed extremely well. Curtis and Lohan are absolutely phenomenal in their double roles. Curtis hasn’t been a child since starring in “Halloween” at the age of 20, although “Freaky Friday” is proof that she hasn’t forgotten how to act like one. Lohan is just as convincing playing a 40-something-year-old mother with no spare time. Not for a second do the two fall out of character when Curtis is portraying an adolescent teenager and Lohan the adult mom trying to keep the family together while at the same answering her purse full of beepers, cell phones and PDAs.

It’s obvious that the point of the film is for both Anna And Tess to realize what they’re mother/daughter goes through on a daily basis. Anna is in a rock band because that gives her mom an excuse to pull the plug on their garage rehearsals everyday at 6:00 PM. The family grandpa (Harold Gould) lives at home because Tess needs a reason to stress over keeping the family in order and everybody happy.

When they switch bodes, both Anna and Tess dress themselves up as if they were themselves. The daughter’s body is clean-cut and suited while the mother’s body is radically dressed thanks to newly found credit card privileges. Tess is in shock when she discovers her daughter's body has a pierced navel, Anna can’t believe the kind patients her mother deals with, Tess soon learns why her daughter is always saying, "you're ruining my life," Anna realizes her new step-father might not be so bad after all, and so on and so on.

The main conflict arises when Tess’s rehearsal dinner falls on the same night as Anna and her band’s audition at the House of Blues. Of course Tess in Anna’s body doesn’t mind missing the audition because nothing is more important than her wedding, and also the fact that she can’t play the guitar. Of course Anna who is in her mother’s body has no choice but to go through the rehearsal and miss the chance of a lifetime at the House of Blues (unless later events change that). A hilarious scene follows during a mock speech and we hear Anna say, "It's great that we're getting married--even though my husband recently died. How quickly I've been able to get over it!" Her sarcastic expression and grim smile is almost priceless.

“Freaky Friday” is a feel-good movie with some genuine moments that you can’t help but adore. It’s not original in any means, that is unless you consider its genre as something original from the enormous supply of action movies this summer. The acting is beyond convincing and you can tell that Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan had a blast while making the film, and I had one while watching it.

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© Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. Contact Editor: Scott Spicciati