Freaky Friday

2003, Movie, PG, 93 mins


A sweet, if predictable, modern-day version of young-adult author Mary Rodgers's classic body-switch tale. Psychologist Dr. Tess Coleman (Jamie Lee Curtis) tries her best to be a super mom, but the strain is showing as she strives simultaneously to spend quality time with her two children, plan her upcoming nuptials to Ryan (Mark Harmon) and attend to the needy patients who call her cell phone constantly. Though stressed, and completely dependent on her palm pilot, she seems to have everything under control except her strained relationship with 15-year-old Anna (Lindsay Lohan). While mother and daughter clearly love each other, they come from different worlds. Tess can't figure out why her intelligent child is failing English, obsessed with her garage band and perpetually bickering with her brother (Ryan Malgarini). Anna thinks her mother's career and life are perfect, while she can't even get resident high-school rebel Jake (Chad Michael Murray) to notice her. The constant quarrelling comes to a head during dinner at a Chinese restaurant, where a meddlesome employee (Lucille Soong) gives them two enchanted fortune cookies. Hey presto, the next day they awake and find they've switched bodies. Their initial attempts to switch back fail, forcing them to walk in each other's shoes for one very tumultuous day until each commits a selfless act and cosmic order is restored. Other movies, including 1987's LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON; 1988's VICE VERSA and 18 AGAIN!, have tackled this primal teen fantasy — what adolescent never envied grown-ups' apparent freedom or wished a day in high school hell on a parent who just doesn't understand — but Curtis and Lohan's spirited performances make this variation memorable and neither has any trouble flip-flopping between her teenaged and adult self. In fact Curtis takes to her newfound youth like a caged bird to the air, spiking up her hair and body surfing gleefully on a local talk show. Their liveliness more than compensates for the fact that significant others Harmon and Murray are cardboard cutouts of ideal boyfriends; the only male performer allowed to shine is newcomer Ryan Malgarini, who nearly steals every scene he's in. Though the film's target tweenaged audience will neither know nor care, Rodgers's book has been filmed twice before, in 1976 with Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster, and for television in 1995 with Shelley Long and Gaby Hoffman. leave a comment --Angel Cohn

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