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Rebellious 15 year-old Anna Coleman (Lindsay Lohan) and her psychiatrist mother Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis) are engaged in a constant battle of wills. Anna believes her mother is remarrying too quickly while Tess disapproves of the rock and roll music Anna plays with her garage band. During an argument at a Chinese restaurant, Tess and Anna switch bodies. Now trapped inside her mother, Anna must counsel patients and appear devoted to fiancé Ryan (Mark Harmon). Tess, meanwhile, is forced to attend school as Anna and negotiate a budding romance with local boy Jake (Chad Murray). Neither is very successful at imitating the other and as the complications mount up, mother and daughter slowly learn to appreciate the problems each faces.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
The third version of Disney's 1977 body switcheroo comedy based on Mary Rogers' novel is a cheery piece of nonsense that has nothing to do with the real world and is enjoyable on precisely those terms. Take the garage band young Anna plays in for example. You've never heard a more professional-sounding teen combo than these suburban kids whose musicianship and songwriting skills are already on par with most of the bands they're attempting to emulate. The same applies to Anna's squeaky-clean brand of teen rebellion. Most parents would be relieved if their children were as "troublesome" as Anna whose major crimes appear to be navel piercing, habitual banishments to the school detention room and bickering with her little brother Harry (Ryan Malgarini).

Such is the statute of behavioural limitations in Disney movie-land but it doesn't matter too much because the performances of Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis are so appealing. Lohan, who played dual roles in the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap (and incidentally was the first red-headed child signed by the Ford modelling agency), is a delight in the part originally played by Jodie Foster straight after her Taxi Driver assignment. She's convincing and appealing as a teenager who thinks she knows it all and even better when channelling her mother's disapproving personality into her body. Curtis - still a fox at 45 - also revels in conditions that actors must dream of. Scenes in which she undergoes a make-over and emerges as the neighbourhood's funkiest mother are very funny and her command of teen-speak is spot-on. Better still, we can fully understand why Anna's dream boy Jake (Chad Murray) would fall for Tess and want to race her around town on his motorbike.

Freaky Friday runs through all the mix-ups you'd imagine and executes them with confident and lively strokes. Director Mark Waters injects plenty of energy into the neatly modernised screenplay by Leslie Dixon and Disney writing fellowship graduate Heather Hatch; there are very few dull spots along the way. Dixon and Hatch's script cleverly sidesteps the adult themes inherent in the relationship of Tess and husband-to-be Ryan (Mark Harmon) and manages to make its messages about mutual respect less cringing than we might have imagined. Although the 1987 Tom Hanks/Fred Savage film Big still ranks as the best example of this sub-genre, Freaky Friday does enough to earn an honourable mention.

Published January 15, 2004

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CAST: Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Harold Gould, Janet Choi, Chad Murray, Mark Harmon, Ryan Malgarini

DIRECTOR: Mark S. Waters

SCRIPT: Heather Hach, Leslie Dixon (Mary Rodgers, novel)

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

PRESENTATION: Dolby Digital; widescreen 1.85:1/16:9 transfer for dual layered format



DVD RELEASE: January 7, 2004

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