Published Aug 01, 2003If Disney is the "magic kingdom," then three times is a charm for Freaky Friday, Mary Rodgers' novel thrice adapted into films of the same name by Disney.
In 1976, four years after the novel's original publication date, Barbara Harris played the frustrated mom and Jodie Foster her equally perturbed daughter, who magically switch bodies and learn what it's like in the other's shoes. It was followed up by the 1995 made-for-TV remake, this time with Shelley Long and Gaby Hoffman.
And while both of those films garnered moderate praise, my money's on the 2003 version for the best reviews. Directed by Mark Waters (Head Over Heels, The House of Yes), in this version it's a charmed fortune cookie that forces the switch. And with the rapidly approaching nuptials of psychologist mom (Jamie Lee Curtis) and the crucial band demo and boy problems of the stellar guitar-playing daughter (Lindsay Lohan), time is of the essence.
What makes this movie work more than anything else is the combined performances of both Curtis and Lohan. Lohan is a dual role alum, having played opposite herself for the 1998 remake of the twin-swapping Parent Trap. She has an earnestness and believability that differentiate her from obvious comparisons to fellow G-rated movie stars like Amanda Bynes and Hilary Duff. And if there was one star that rose slightly higher to the occasion, it would have to be Jamie Lee Curtis. A pretty cool mom in real life, who better to play a precocious, rebellious teenager trapped in a woman's body?
Aside from Curtis and Lohan, Mark Harmon is cute but forgettable as Curtis's fiancé, pretty boy Chad Murray (Gilmore Girls, Dawson's Creek) is slightly endearing, vaguely irritating as Lohan's love interest, and Rosalind Chao's acting ability (Joy Luck Club) is an undervalued commodity here in her painfully stereotyped Chinese restaurant owner role.
Freaky Friday is a really funny, sweetly sentimental movie with a kickin' pop punk soundtrack. And a little sugar now and then never hurt anyone. (Disney/Buena Vista)