In the new Freaky Friday, the characters have been "modernized" from the 1970's version. Fifteen-year-old Annabel is now just called "Anna," and Mom has a fiancé. But one thing hasn't changed: the pair fight constantly just like mothers and teenage daughters have done throughout the ages.
The story begins one Thursday, two days before the mother, Tess Coleman, is about to get married. After a detention-filled day at school, Anna learns that her Josie-and-the-Pussycats-esque band, The Pink Slips, will have the rare opportunity to play a gig at the House of Blues. Anna's spirits are briefly lifted, but soon squashed when she realizes the performance is the same night as her mother's rehearsal dinner. Mom refuses to let Anna play the show and accuses Anna of being selfish. Anna fires back with a "You don't care about me, Mom, you're ruining my life!" The argument comes to a head that night at a Chinese restaurant, and that's when fate intervenes. Tess and Anna unknowingly eat magical fortune cookies that cause them to switch bodies during the night. When they realize what's happened, the pressure is on to set things back the way they were before the daughter is married off to Mom's fiance.
In the meantime, mother and daughter spend a little time in each other's shoes. Mom has to deal with a vindictive teacher, an aptitude test, and the school bully; while daughter copes with last-minute wedding preparations, a P.T.A. meeting, and a surprise television appearance.
In order for Freaky Friday to work, both of the lead actresses have to not only be believable in their dual roles, but they have to make it fun. Luckily, the 2003 Freaky Friday succeeds on both counts. Jamie Lee Curtis hilariously captures every nuance of a teenager from propping her feet up on the dashboard to her delivery of "Eww, gross!" She makes the most out of every scene and really seems to be having a good time. The daughter is no slouch either. Like Jodi Foster before her, Lindsay Lohan truly seems to be channeling an adult. When she tells the daughter's love interest he would "really benefit from a haircut," her matter-of-fact tone is dead-on suburban Mom.
Kudos are also due to the screenwriters who have successfully re-created the life of a modern teenager (complete with a hip taste in music) while completely avoiding the more "R-rated" aspects of the high-school experience. Parents should feel safe letting their young teenagers see this movie without adult supervision. It's also a perfect movie for mom and daughter to see together as a "girls night out." Be warned though, kids who are already in high school are probably too old for Freaky Friday.
Freaky Friday suffers from occasional holes in logic which, though frustrating for adults, would probably go unnoticed by the target audience. The characters find themselves in such awkward situations it seems impossible that they would continue to keep their body-swap a secret. But, the film is so full of exuberance and innocent fun that it's hard to stay cranky.
As long as mothers and daughters don't understand each other, the Freaky Friday formula should live on. Throw in a pair of great actresses and some decent screenwriters, and you've got a remake that's not half bad.
-Megan A. Denny