Directed by Mark Waters. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Harold Gould, Chad Michael Murray, Mark Harmon, Ryan Malgarini. (2003, PG, 93 min.)
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Aug. 8, 2003
This remake of the 1977 Disney movie about a mother and daughter magically switching bodies for one day is better than you think it’ll be, thanks largely to the extremely engaging performances of Curtis and Lohan as the disembodied pair. With few exceptions, the two of them are in synchronization here; they really seem to be trading places. As the teenager in an almost-middle-aged woman’s body, Curtis plays the part as if she were gulping down the Fountain of Youth in giant swigs – it may not be the most subtle physical performance, but it’s one to relish, given her obvious pleasure in playing it. Even more impressive is relative newcomer Lohan’s turn as the rebellious teenager who literally becomes her uptight mother. She gives her put-upon high schooler an Avril Lavigne-like quality without resorting to clichés, completely believable in a tough-but-sensitive way. When Lohan goes maternal, however, she’s a hoot; her aghast reactions to the everyday life of a 16-year-old are the best thing about this movie. (The scene in which she instinctively tugs on a blouse to cover a bare midriff is truly inspired.) Lohan’s only other notable role so far has been in another remake of a Disney picture – The Parent Trap – but she’s unquestionably talented and definitely someone to watch. Aside from its likable leads, Freaky Friday has its moments, some even mildly subversive, as when Curtis flirts with her daughter’s hottie boyfriend and he thinks he’s falling head over heels for someone almost three times his age. There is, however, a Disneyesque mentality that breaks the surface occasionally, which keeps the movie from achieving its full potential. In the end, you never really believe that this mother and daughter have walked a mile in the other’s shoes to the extent that they truly appreciate and understand each other. That’s more like wishful thinking on the filmmakers’ part. Still, there’s enough intelligence and wit here to sustain your interest, especially when Curtis and Lohan are in peak form. They put the freak in this Freaky Friday.