Freaky Friday

A Film Review By The Mike

Rating:Rated PG for some quasi-adult themes
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Mark Harmon
Directed By: Mark S. Waters

Final Grade:

The remake business has been a booming industry over the past couple of years, and most of us figured that it had reached its low point when we saw the previews for Freaky Friday. The film was not heavily advertised, the ads that did show up were far from enticing, and some marketing genius decided that it would be a good idea to release a movie called Freaky Friday on a Wednesday, unlike the 99% of films that open on the day that happens to be in the film’s title. So should we care about Freaky Friday? In a word…yes.

You’re probably as surprised to read that as I was to type it. But, contrary to all rational thought, Freaky Friday turns out to be the best Disney family comedy in years. It’s a film that reminded my fondly of the comedies I’d watch as a child in the 80’s, and made me feel like a kid again. It’s a film that sets out to be pleasant, funny, and touching, and succeeds more than it fails.

For those who aren’t sure what this film is about, and (like me) haven’t seen the 1976 original which starred Barbara Harris and a young Jodie Foster, Freaky Friday is the story of a mother and daughter whom can’t get along. The mother (Curtis) is a renowned psychologist who is two days away from wedding her second husband, while her daughter (Lohan) is a 15 year old girl who’s caught up in most of the things 15 year old girls are usually caught up in, along with starring in a garage band. An argument between the two in a Chinese restaurant leads to an old woman giving them a fortune cookie that, of course, causes them to switch bodies for the titular Friday.

How is this possibly good? The premise is not original (which is needless to say, since it’s a remake), the plot is not unpredictable, and the clichés are heavier than a truck full of sumo wrestlers. What does it have that makes it more watchable than most films of its sort? The answer to that lies in its cast.

Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan are not stars that will draw a crowd, but the filmmakers could not have produced a better leading duo. Curtis is vibrant and joyful, especially in the scenes where she’s the daughter in the mother’s body. She pulls off gags like rocking out on a guitar, mosh pitting in a talk show audience, and riding on the back of a motorcycle with an ease that it’s hard to imagine any other actress over 40 pulling off. Lohan is just as excellent, giving off a motherly attitude in the role that is perfectly mature and at times hilarious. The 17-year-old definitely is a talented comedic actress, and should have a bright future if she can get out from under the evil Disney empire.

Most of the remakes I’ve seen lately leave me asking if the film was really necessary, and if I was glad that I’d seen it. Some are obviously not necessary (Rollerball), some are passable yet pointless (The In-Laws), some are excellent films (Insomnia), and some make their aged predecessors look sillily pointless (The Italian Job). I’m not sure if Freaky Friday fits nicely into any of those categories, but I am surprisingly glad to have seen it, and unapologetically give it a heart-felt recommendation. If you’re looking for a film that will entertain the kids and keep you amused, look no further than Freaky Friday, the most pleasant film to come from the vile Disney dynasty in years.

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