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Freaky Friday (1977) & (2003)

List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted June 20, 2004 | E-mail the Author
The Movies:

Disney was loosing steam in the 70's.  The world was changing all around them and they didn't seem to realize it.  They wanted to continue to make that same sort of movies that they had for years; family friendly films that were innocent and squeaky-clean.  Films wher the biggest transgression a girl could make was wearing lipstick.  Viet Nam and Watergate were changing the country's attitudes, but Disney wasn't changing with everyone else.  When viewed today, a lot of the Disney movies fromo this period seem really hokey and out of place.  But there were still some good films that they made during this time, and one of them was Freaky Friday.  The film was popular, and it even spawned a remake in 2003.  Now Buena Vista has released the 1977 and 2003 versions in a convenient two pack.

Both of these movies have the same basic plot.  A mother and her teenage daughter are just not getting along.  They can't seem to agree on anything and are always fighting.  But one Friday, through some unexplained magic, they switch minds.  The mother becomes trapped in her daughter's body and vice-versa.   This day of seeing life from the other side of the fence gives each of the ladies a new appreciation for what the other's life is like.

1977 version:  Annabell (Jodie Foster) switches places with her mother Ellen (Barbara Harris) when they both wish that they could be the other for "just one day."  Poor Annabell has problems running the house on the day that her father's PR firm is opening a new marina.  To add to her problems, Annabell finds out at the last minute that she has to cater the affair and prepare a meal for 25 people.  But Ellen doesn't have it any easier in her daughter's body.  In addition to going to school and handling the usual trials associated with that, she is also the star player of her school's field hockey team.  After that, she needs to perform with her schools aquatic team as they do a waterskiing demonstration at the marina opening.  Unfortunately Ellen's never been on water skis in her life.

This version of the film is a little dated.  The avocado green appliances and gold colored carpet firmly place this movie in the 1970's.  But more than that, women's rolls have changed a lot since this was made, and many of the jokes are not as topical.  The 'putting too much detergent into the washing machine' gag was tired even back in 1976, and today it really falls flat.   A lot of the other gags were too much of a stretch too.  Ellen couldn't figure how to turn on an electric typewriter, and Annabell had no idea how to put clothes in a washer.  Some of the bits were funny, but most of them would have been more amusing 25 years ago.

The acting was standard, but not outstanding.  Jodie Foster wasn't very convincing as a middle aged woman trapped in a young girl's body, but she tried.  Like her character, she was between being an adult and a child, and didn't seem comfortable acting in this picture.  Barbara Harris was a little better, but still not great.

2003 version:  Tess Coleman (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her daughter Anna (Lindsay Lohan) are fighting in a Chinese restaurant when an old oriental lady hands them each a special fortune cookie.  In the middle of the night, after eating the cookies, the two change bodies.  Like the original version, each of them encounter many problems, the main one being that Tess is supposed to be married on Saturday!

I think this movie is a lot more entertaining for today's audiences.  The humor was much more topical, and the jokes seemed to work better.  There were a lot of funny parts in this movie, from a young Anna (in her mother's body) taking care of her mother's psychiatric practice to Tess having to play lead guitar in her daughter's rock band.  I especially liked the running gag of Anna not wanting to kiss her mothers finance after the switch, and the horror she would feel every time someone would remind her that she was getting married the next day, and the unspoken thought that she would have to go off on a honeymoon after that.
Lindsay Lohan does a great job of being an older woman trapped in the body of a teenager.  She really acts like a middle-aged woman through most of the movie.  Her mannerisms are spot on.  Jamie Lee Curtis was also very good.  She seemed very comfortable acting like a teenager.  They were both fun to watch and added a lot to the movie.

The DVD:


1977 version:  This DVD features an English 5.1 audio track as well as a stereo French dub.  The sound was clear and fitted the movie.   There wasn't a huge dynamic range, but it didn't adversly affect the film.

2003 version:  This movie comes with a 5.1 channel soundtrack and optional English subtitles.   The sound was full and the music was really bright.  The movie has a good soundtrack and it is reproduced accurately.  There was a good dynamic range, just what you'd expect from a recent release.


1977:  The anamorphically enhanced widescreen image looked good.  The colors were not faded, and there was very good detail and contrast.  The image did have a little grain to it though, but it wasn't distracting.  There weren't any digital defects worth noting.  This is a nice looking disc.

2003:  This DVD gives you the option of viewing the movie in a cropped fullscreen version, or an anamorphically enhanced widescreen version.  The picture looked good.  The colors were bright and digital defects were practically nonexistent.  There was a little bit of edge enhancement, but it was mild and not irritating.  A good looking DVD.

The Extras:

1976:  A Look Back with Jodie Foster: A 20 minute featurette where Ms. Foster talks about the movie with clips from the movie thrown in.  She talks about working at Disney back in the day, going over a lot of her early movies, which I found very interesting.

Freaky Friday Memory Game:  An eight card matching game where you try to remember where scenes from the movie are hidden.  There is not 'prize' if you win. It is pretty lame.

2003:  This DVD comes with a good selection of bonus material.

Backstage Pass with Lindsay Logan:  A seven minute behind the scenes piece hosted by Lindsay Lohan.  This was pretty funny.  It shows the cast cutting up and relaxing.  I especially liked the bit in the make-up trailer where Jamie Lee Curtis was describing Lindsay as her Padawan apprentice.

Deleted Scene:  A single cut scene introduced by the director.  I was cut with good reason.

Freaky Bloopers:  Two minutes worth of goofs and cut ups by the cast.  Not the funniest outtakes ever, but worth watching.

Freaky Jams:  Two music videos for songs featured in the movie.  Girl group Lillix does an interesting cover of "What I like About You" and  Halo Friendlies, another all female band, performs "Me vs. the World."

Alternate Endings:  Three different ending are introduced by the director Mark Waters.

Easter Egg:  If you click on the fortune cookie at the bottom of the main menu, the cut out paper doll images of Tess and Anna will wear new outfits.

Both DVDs also have a series of trailers for other Disney movies.

Final Thoughts:

These were both funny movies.  The 1976 version is dated for today's audiences, but still has some good laughs in it.  Younger viewers may find the beginning a little slow, but it soon picks up.  It was great seeing this movie again.

The more recent movie had more laughs but was still family friendly.  The jokes and gags are easier for viewers to handle, and the situations were a little more comical.  I usually don't like remakes as much as the original, but this is one of those rare cases were the modern version is more enjoyable than the classic movie.  The pair make a good addition to any Disney library.  Recommended.

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