Freaky Friday (2003) Review

Anna: Get away you clone freak!

Beware: Spoilers may follow.

I’ll admit when I first saw this movie I had no idea it was a remake. And remakes of movies (Disney or not) don’t often tend to turn out to well. But as an adult who’s seen both the original and this one I can safely say this is a pretty solid movie.

The story involves single mother Tess and her teenage daughter Anna who share quite the disagreements on the various things surrounding their lives. The two receive a cryptic fortune at a Chinese Restaurant only to find out the next day the two have switched bodies. Unable to change back right away the two are forced to masquerade as each other and develop a sense of respect and understanding for one another along the way.

The plotline is basic and easily predictable but the direction handles it with a good amount of intelligence and sometimes even surprise. It delivers its message not only literally but in doing so stresses the importance of family and communication. It knows how to have fun with the various scenarios of the mother and daughter taking a walk in each other’s shoes and at times it gets a little cringe-worthy (and dated) but at its core is exploring these two opposite people, exploring the interests of one another. It’s a family comedy that knows how to be serious with what it’s doing at the same time without going into too overly cheesy territory in that regard. At the same time it there are scenes of comedy where the movie does not hesitate to go all out with sheer hilarity. Some of it on paper can be downright unsettling for Disney to handle and could easily come off as creepy but they know how to keep it innocent and charming.

Given the time period, there are a lot of updates to fit the modern era. One of the aspects I liked was that the mother actually works as a therapist in this one. In the original 70s version the mom was a stay-at-home mom and while that had some comedy there’s a lot more to be had with a teen entering a huge part of the workforce. There are other aspects are a tad more dated but they still carry that charm of the times to them

Both Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan prove to be dead on in their respective roles as mother and daughter and they only get better once the two go into role reversal. Both of them have a good balance of strength, fright, reality, and humor in the process. At the movie’s core is the relationship between these two and the leads have such great chemistry that not only succeeds in expanding their respective personalities but also it really feels like the mother and daughter have bonded not only by blood but also by a full understanding of who they are inside and out. The other cast members like Mark Harmon as Tess’ fiancé and Stephen Tobolowsky as Anna’s teacher do a relatively good job though their roles are mostly minimal compared to everything else. 

Overall this remake of Freaky Friday is in many ways on par with its 1977 counterpart. Its comedy never feels overdone, its drama is subtle and believable, and its leads are the perfect amount of comical without going into over-the-top territory. It’s not something I’d go back to time and again but if I ever am given a chance to watch this I definitely will. I definitely found some comedic and heart value in this movie and if you watch it you definitely will find at least one of those aspects in this movie.

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