Freaky Friday

on January 21, 1977 by Francesca Dinglasan
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In a summer season laden with sequels, remakes and otherwise unoriginal, rehashed material, Disney's updated "Freaky Friday" comes as a pleasant surprise, actually offering some fresh comedic twists on the familiar tale of a mother and daughter who learn the great lesson of empathy after literally seeing the world through each other's eyes.Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan reprise the roles of a single working mom and rebellious teen daughter first played by Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster in the 1976 version of the film, with both actresses in the new release effectively making the parts their own. Curtis' Tess Coleman is a workaholic perfectionist about to be remarried, while Lohan's Anna favors grunge-style clothing, guitars and her bad-boy classmate Jake (Chad Michael Murray). These generation-gap differences result in constant tiffs between Tess and Anna, culminating in a loud argument at a Chinese restaurant, where the mother and daughter separately open identical fortune cookies. The synchronized action sets off a mystical chain of events in which Tess and Anna end up trapped in one another's bodies, forced to live--and experience firsthand--the daily trials and tribulations of the other's daily life.

"Freaky Friday's" most hilarious moments come after the famous body switch, with both Curtis and Lohan evincing exceptional comedic timing and a keen ability to ape one another's characteristics. Curtis as Anna evokes a perfectly lovestruck 15-year-old, while Lohan is appropriately fussy and conservative as a 40-ish professional attempting to navigate the social minefields of high school.

As in the original version of the Disney film, the remake bears all the aphorisms that are part-and-parcel of many family-friendly features, including such grandiose morals as the importance of compassion and patience. "Freaky Friday's" saving grace, however, is that instead of driving these life lessons home with drippy emotional outbursts or scenarios, it deftly delivers them with the right amount of energy and a whole lot of humor. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Mark Harmon, Harold Gould and Chad Michael Murray. Directed by Mark Waters. Written by Heather Hach and Leslie Dixon. Produced by Andrew Gunn. A Buena Vista release. Comedy/Drama. Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some language. Running time: 93 min

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