Freaky Friday

Body swap remake shenanigans for the teen market that's turned out surprisingly well.

Released in 2003, certified UK-PG. Reviewed on 18 Dec 2003 by Scott Morris
Freaky Friday image

Adult life isn't particularly easy, as we've come to realise through bitter personal experience. While being a teenager was never the sensational tabloid baiting experience as chronicled in Thirteen at the time I wouldn't have considered it terribly easy either. As is ever the way in Hollywood's portrayal of intergeneration politicking, Parents cannot understand teenagers, Teenagers cannot understand parents. Until, of course, some ninety minute crisis forces them to come to terms to affect a resolution or, as is the case in this remake of the 1976 film, a mystical fortune cookie forces them to swap bodies and experience the lives of the other.

Just such a fate befalls Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Annabell Coleman (Lindsay Lohan). While the mother has to put up with the alien environment of high school, dating, band auditions and bitchy rivals, daughter faces the more taxing prospect of dealing with life as a psychologist that's also getting married one day hence, to a man that she hasn't exactly welcomed with open arms. And they'd also like to change bodies back at some point too.

As plots go it's hardly Shakespearian in breadth of depth, in fact it's so flyaway it's a surprise it's managed to stick to the celluloid on the trip over the Atlantic. It's saving grace is a simple one, it's funny. As it's a comedy, this means it's successful. It's not going to win too many awards for originality along the way, but no one ever said that was required to produce an enjoyable film.

Freaky Friday image

Jamie Lee Curtis gets top billing although in truth her performance as a teenager is only slightly better than adequate. Relative newcomer Lohan deserves most of the praise, putting on a surprisingly subtle and nuanced performance acting above her years. Kudos also to Ryan Malgarini playing the youngest of the Coleman family, Harry. For a ten year old kid he pulls off some of the funniest cutaway reaction shots outside of The Office.

I genuinely have very little to say about this film, which I feel short changes it somewhat. Director Waters keeps everything trucking along at a fair old pace, accomplished performances, largely funny. It is somewhat unremarkable so it's not going to be lauded by the 'film as art' crowd, but as a dumb ol' slice of entertainment it's one of those unexpected surprises rather like Agent Cody Banks that while marketed squarely at teens punches far above its weight to appeal to a wider market.

Sometimes being predictable or stereotypical doesn't matter that much. Freaky Friday is a light hearted, inoffensive and funny comedy that's a decent fallback if you can't get into that big orc-fest that's filling cinemas this weekend.

Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 4/5 TippyMarks.

Mark S. Waters
Cast list:
Jamie Lee Curtis (Tess Coleman)
Lindsay Lohan (Annabell Coleman)
Ryan Malgarini (Harry Coleman)
Mark Harmon (Ryan)
Harold Gould (Grandpa)
Chad Michael Murray (Jake)