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Overall Rating
4.2

Awesome: 32.94%
Worth A Look58.82%
Average: 5.88%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 2.35%

5 reviews, 55 user ratings


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Freaky Friday (2003)
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by Scott Weinberg

"Adults in Teen Bodies, Only Not in That Icky Larry Clark Sorta Way."
4 stars

No matter how jaded and cynical my beloved movies can make me feel, every new flick brings fresh hope. I mean, c'mon: who, after sitting through the atrocious trailers for "Freaky Friday", thought it would end up being "so-so", let alone "pretty darn good"? Well, once again my early sneers have transformed into smiles - because another inevitably lame movie turns out better than it has any real right to be.

You don't have to think back too far to remember pre-teen dreck like The Lizzie McGuire Movie and What a Girl Wants. These are pre-packaged and charmlessly forced pieces of product, and please forgive me for assuming that Freaky Friday would follow that pattern. I can only go by the lame-o movie trends that we're consistently subjected to.

Put aside the horribly unpleasant marketing materials for Freaky Friday (the trailer's a mess, the posters are horrid) and you're still left with a project that's now on its third incarnation in less than thirty years (the 1976 original and a 1995 TV adaptation - and let's not forget Mary Rodgers' literary source material) and is part of a sub-sub-genre that includes the likes of 18 Again!, Like Father Like Son, Vice Versa and Dream a Little Dream! Sure, the body-swapping conceit was used to wonderful effect in Penny Marshall's Big but c'mon...how many soul-switching movies do we really NEED?

This summer's Freaky Friday redo is not exactly something we were all clamoring for - but damn if it's not a fine little family flick all the same. And for me to praise a live-action Disney project in this day and age, you just know I had a pretty good time with the movie at hand.

To those still unfamiliar with this old chestnut I offer a cursory synopsis: a frantic, self-centered teenager and her harried, unsympathetic mother switch bodies, a conceit that offers all sorts of potentially amusing complications (which may explain why screenwriters return to this particular well so often): Mom gets an overdue lesson that growing pains are indeed quite painful; Daughter realizes how difficult it is for parents; Mom learns to loosen up a little while earning a newfound appreciation for youthful silliness; Daughter discovers that grown-ups aren't unfeeling ogres after all.

It's all very warm and fuzzy, but here's the scoop: Freaky Friday is, for the most part, quite funny and disarming. (Take away the doddering cliche of a Grampa and a distasteful affection for Asian stereotypes and I'd have virtually no complaints about the screenplay whatsoever.) The Morals of the Story are presented with a degree of craftiness generally unseen in most modern-day Family Flicks, and there's a refreshing lack of push-button pablum that one normally sees in movies of this sort.

And the two leads simply shine. First off, young Lindsay Lohan (best known for The Parent Trap, another unnecessary remake that still managed to entertain) clearly has more talent in her left big toe than many of her contemporaries (Hilary Duff, Mandy Moore, Amanda Bynes, etc., etc.) have in their entire repertoire. As a petulant teen, she's quite good. But when the time comes for Lohan to adopt the attitudes and mannerisms of her 40-something Mom, well the young woman simply shines. Her work here is sterling; she handles the giddy moments with confident aplomb and infuses her performance with an impressive array of grown-up facial gestures and subtly winning affectations. Of all the under 18-ers I've seen on the movie screens over the past few years, Lohan is now the one I have the highest hopes for. I suspect she's a Natural.

Say what you like about Jamie Lee Curtis, but take a moment to consider her comedic work over the years. Her hilariously unkempt striptease in True Lies; her adorably devoted prostitute from Trading Places; her every single moment in the immortal A Fish Called Wanda. This is an actor who knows her funny. And it's plain to see that Jamie Lee is having a bona-fide ball in Freaky Friday. There's about a hundred ways for "aging actress acting like a kid" can go horribly wrong. To Curtis' credit, she avoids them all and manages to anchor the film with a palpable sense of goofy good will.

Let's say you're a parent with two kids between 10 and 14 years of age. These are precarious ages for movie-loving families; every movie you mention is either "too violent" (says Dad) or "too corny" (say the kids) - and that's a more-than-credible concern. Well, here's one that most everyone should get a little kick out of. The parents familiar with the original should certainly appreciate the clever modernizations found within, and the kids will surely enjoy the Wish Fulfillment inherent in watching A) a kid act behave like grown-up and B) a grown-up acting like a spaz. Though shaded a bit towards the fairer sex (all the important characters are of the female variety), I wouldn't really classify Freaky Friday as a Mom-and-Daughter Chick Flick. Little Bobby will enjoy the movie just fine; he just might not admit to it on the way home.

The two leads ALONE make this one worthy of your attention, which is a good thing considering that this story's already been told about a dozen different times. But the movie also earns major Brownie Points for ending up ten times more entertaining than it ever should have been. Kudos to debut screenwriter Heather Hach (and talented script-polisher Leslie Dixon) for somehow managing to squeeze some fun out of this familiar old chestnut.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8064&reviewer=128
originally posted: 08/06/03 20:50:15
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell fun imo 4 stars
8/02/14 roger Jamie Lee Curtis enjoys it much more than the audience 3 stars
9/22/11 Millie Maelstrom If world were fair, Lindsay Lohan would be winning Oscars & Jodie Foster in&out of rehab. 5 stars
11/28/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting Movie! 4 stars
5/16/08 PAUL SHORTT DOESNT OFFER MUCH IN THE WAY OF NEW INSIGHTS INTO THIS MOST PECULIAR OF SUBGENRES 1 stars
10/17/07 Beau It was really enjoyable, much better remake and great cast to top it off!! nice work!! 5 stars
11/16/06 David Pollastrini Lindsay Lohan is hot! 5 stars
10/05/06 Stanley Thai A very good remake. You don't get that a lot these days. 4 stars
4/02/06 JRE not bad 3 stars
2/09/06 cathy it is so fabulous! i love it! 5 stars
12/24/05 moolataafongoriannshonternon leviosaton ttly awesome 5 stars
6/30/05 John Ay Entertaining 3 stars
6/27/05 dan awesome, lindsay is so hot 5 stars
6/05/05 Charlene Javier Excellent! Lindsay and Jamie rocks! 5 stars
6/04/05 Mike Jozic Surprisingly competent remake. Lohan & Curtis do a great job. 4 stars
6/03/05 Christy Schultz Way funny 4 stars
6/03/05 deadwiz Fun family film, plus its got lindsay lohan in it. That helps. 4 stars
5/23/05 Jim Decent fluff, picks up steam as it goes along 4 stars
5/13/05 Jennifer Regan This movie is hilarious! 4 stars
9/20/04 Valerie This movie is great, much better than the original. 5 stars
8/01/04 valerie hart gr8 family fun and a gr8 startin performance by lohan !!! 5 stars
6/25/04 Arse Poet Not as bad as I predicted. Not a great movie, but not bad, considering it's a kiddie film. 4 stars
5/07/04 Ross Great movie. I love J. Curtis 5 stars
2/20/04 aubrey i loved Chad Michael Murray, he's so damn hot 4 stars
2/19/04 KingNeutron Both actresses were excellent. JLC is still Teh Hottay! :) 5 stars
2/08/04 Nicola Hutton Exerlent 5 stars
1/24/04 JohnnyXXX a movie that you can watch over and over again 5 stars
1/23/04 Chloe Brody Both mother and daughter were cast brilliantly! 4 stars
1/15/04 Betty White Very likable, well-acted Disney comedy. 5 stars
1/06/04 monica a good family film 4 stars
1/06/04 Natasha Theobald I can't believe how funny and enjoyable this was. 4 stars
1/04/04 ari it was cute, a great mother/daughter bonding film 3 stars
1/01/04 Phil M. Aficionado I suggest you read Sott Weinberg's review; I. too. found it enjoyable, at about 3.6 stars 4 stars
1/01/04 ROY L. CAIN,JR. Too preachy and stiff. Stick with the Jodie Foster version. 3 stars
12/30/03 Chris A great addition to the disney collection if perhaps alittle too raunchy. 4 stars
11/23/03 smartmusician Better than what I expected 4 stars
10/15/03 here a good film 4 stars
10/11/03 Joana This movie was da bomb 5 stars
10/08/03 courtney h. i loved the movie and i love her@ 5 stars
10/05/03 ERIN SO COOL 5 stars
9/25/03 tina I absolutely loved it. Way better than what I thought it would be 4 stars
9/13/03 Bill Better than the original for music, acting, script, dialogue... 4 stars
9/11/03 Dottie Hubbard I thought it was a hoot! A real 'fun' movie that is thoroughly entertaining. 5 stars
9/08/03 lindsen It was greeeeeaaaatttt! i loved it sooooo much! i hope i get to buy it! 5 stars
8/30/03 jada better than expected, actors really good 4 stars
8/29/03 SPH I loved it, my kids loved it!! 5 stars
8/28/03 Joey OH MY GOD 1 stars
8/16/03 MEEE great film 5 stars
8/16/03 Kyle Smith Great Movie! 5 stars
8/16/03 bigfan lindsey lohan is so hot 5 stars
8/12/03 maigne interesting 5 stars
8/11/03 Jenn a great mother-daughter movie, kept me laughing the whole way through! 5 stars
8/10/03 Red a great film 5 stars
8/09/03 Beth Maxey Pleasantly surprised, helped me look at things from 15yr old daughter's view. Well done! 5 stars
8/07/03 Redpajammas I thought this was a very cute movie; kept me laughing from beginning to end! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  06-Aug-2003 (PG)
  DVD: 16-Dec-2003

UK
  N/A

Australia
  25-Sep-2003




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