July 1, 2002
Mark S. Waters,
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Mark Harmon, Harold Gould, Chad Michael Murray, Stephen Tobolowsky, Christina Vidal, Ryan Malgarini, Haley Hudson, Rosalind Chao, Lucille Soong, Willie Garson, Dina Spybey, Julie Gonzalo, Christina Marie Walter, ,
The body swap genre has had a less than illustrious past. Films like Like Father, Like Son (1987) and Vice Versa (1988) take a child and their adult counterpart and reverse their roles with supposedly hilarious results. The humour comes from the adult acting like a kid and the kid acting like an adult—each trying to survive in each other’s world. The original Freaky Friday (1976) and Big (1988) proved to be exceptions to the rule for this subgenre in that they were both actually funny. Now, Disney has decided to go back to the well and update this concept for the new millennium.
Tess (Curtis) is an anal-retentive, yoga practicing mom who spends a large part of her life on a cell phone maintaining her psychiatric practice (Fans of HBO’s Sex and the City will be delighted to spot Willie Garson as one of Tess’ neurotic, needy patients). Her daughter, Anna (The Parent Trap’s Lohan), is a rebellious teenager who looks like she takes fashion tips from Avril Lavigne. She’s juggling an unrequited crush on an older guy (Gilmore Girls’ heartthrob, Murray) and is having all sorts of trouble at school. Her life is a mess. To say that mother and daughter don’t communicate well is a gross understatement. One night, Tess and Anna both eat magically enhanced fortune cookies at a Chinese restaurant. Much to their chagrin, they wake up to realize that they have swapped bodies over night and have to find a way to switch back before Tess’ wedding dinner dress rehearsal (to a bland suitor played by Mark Harmon) and Anna’s band audition at the House of Blues.
This role reversal allows Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan to play each other. Curtis gets to cut loose and play a wild, hormonal teen, while Lohan gets to play a repressed adult. The humour comes from the mother and daughter trying to improve each other’s lives and survive in their respective worlds. Of the two, it looks like Curtis is having the most fun. There is one scene, in particular, where she is surprised by her fiancé who has booked her, at the last second, on a talk show to promote her new book. Of course, she has to play things out as Anna who knows nothing about the book. So, she has to improvise her way through the appearance. Curtis is genuinely funny as she applies her daughter’s rock ‘n’ roll attitude to the uptight world of day time talk shows.
Freaky Friday follows a fairly predictable path but it’s an amusing, inoffensive ride. This is obviously a showcase for the talents of Curtis and Lohan and, as a result, the rest of the cast suffers. Mark Harmon is given the most thankless role of Curtis’ dull fiancé—it is so underwritten that pretty much anyone could have played his character.
“Backstage Pass with Lindsay Lohan” offers a brief glimpse into the making of Freaky Friday, hosted by the young actress. She goofs around with Mark Harmon, bonds with Jamie Lee Curtis and shoots a scene. It has a light, funny tone reminiscent of the movie.
“Deleted Scene” features a very short clip cut from the movie. Director Mark Waters introduces the footage and explains why it was cut from the final version.
“Freaky Bloopers” is your standard outtakes reel of goofs and line flubs.
“Freaky Jams” features two music videos from power pop girl bands, Lillix and Halo Friendlies. Both videos feature footage of the bands playing intercut with scenes from the film. The Lillix video actually features Lohan playing with the band in a clever spin on the role reversal shtick from the movie.
“Alternate Endings” features three different endings to the movie. Waters introduces them all and explains why two of the three were not used and why the last one ended up being in the film.
Freaky Friday is a fun romp that will no doubt appeal to its intended target: teenage girls. The movie plugs in all the right elements to have a broad appeal and in doing so, comes across as an average feature.