Freaky Friday (July 26/03)
Freaky Friday marks the welcome return of the body-switching genre. With the exception of last year's horrid Rob Schneider vehicle, The Hot Chick, virtually ever film made with this sort of plot works. There's just something inherently interesting about watching two very different people (which they always are) attempt to get by in the body of a polar opposite. Freaky Friday is no exception.
Based on the book by Mary Rodgers (which was also the inspiration for the '77 film of the same name), Freaky Friday stars Jamie Lee Curtis as uptight psychologist Tess Coleman and Lindsay Lohan as her punk-rockin' daughter Anna. The two don't seem to get along at all, fighting constantly, much to the chagrin of Tess' soon-to-be husband, Ryan (Mark Harmon). But after an old Chinese woman (Lucille Soong) puts a spell on the two via fortune cookies, Tess and Anna find themselves trapped in each other's bodies. Hijinks and confusion abound, as the two try to adapt to their new lives.
After a summer filled to the brim with lousy sequels and toothless action movies, there's something incredibly refreshing about a movie like Freaky Friday. Its wholesomeness and good-natured vibe is something that's sorely been lacking from the majority of big-screen fare as of late, and though the film will never be mistaken for something edgy, there's a lot here to enjoy. The performances, for example, are just about perfectly suited for this sort of material. Curtis, a last-minute replacement for Annette Bening, is very effective as both the straight-laced Tess and the free-spirited Anna. No stranger to comedy, Curtis brings a lot of humor to the role(s) without going over the top (which must have been a temptation). Likewise, Lohan (best known for playing twins in the recent remake of The Parent Trap) does a nice job of keeping Anna likeable, even in her I-hate-everybody early scenes. And Mark Harmon proves to be incredibly charismatic and engaging, and despite his limited screen time, he's able to turn Ryan into a far more interesting character than we should've had any right to expect.
This being a Disney movie, it should come as no surprise that there's a good amount of sentiment present - especially towards the end. Screenwriters Heather Hach and Leslie Dixon effectively ensure the movie never becomes overwhelmingly syrupy, with the more mawkish elements seamlessly integrated into the story. But mostly, Freaky Friday is just an exceedingly entertaining film that the whole family can enjoy (unlike the recent Spy Kids 3-D, which only holds appeal for small children). Aside from a brief stretch towards the end of the second act that drags a little, the film's pace is quick and brisk. It's virtually impossible to watch the movie without smiling throughout, and for that alone, Freaky Friday is worth a look.