Freaky Friday (2003) (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner21/10/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

Extremely enjoyable, sharply scripted family comedy with superb comic performances from both Jamie Lee Curtis and Lyndsay Lohan.

Way back in 1988, you couldn’t move without hitting a ‘body swap’ movie, as both Big and Vice Versa came out that year. Since then, however, Body Swap Movie Fans (a small, but devoted bunch) have had to wait fifteen years for another one to come along.

The time is ripe, then, for a contemporary remake of the 1976 Disney classic Freaky Friday, which starred Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris. The result is a well observed, frequently hilarious, genuinely uplifting family movie that shows Disney on top form - a surprise hit in the States, it’s certain to repeat that success here.

You’re Ruining My Life!

Lyndsay Lohan (who seems to be making a career of Disney remakes – she was also in the recent version of The Parent Trap) stars as Annabel, a fifteen year old girl whose constant refrain to her Mum, Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis) is “You’re ruining my LIFE!”. On top of her Mum’s nagging, she has an annoying younger brother, her band are still in their ‘struggling garage phase’, and her English teacher (Stephen Toblowsky) seems to pick on her for no good reason.

Meanwhile, Tess is a successful psychologist about to marry her devoted fiancé (Mark Harmon) and caught between work commitments and organising her wedding. However, after an incident with a Mystical Fortune Cookie at their favourite Chinese restaurant, mother and daughter wake up the next morning in each other’s bodies and find themselves having to live each other’s lives for a day…

Rumour Has It There’s An Oscar In The Offing

The success of a film like this hinges on two things: the script and the comic performances of its two leads. Thankfully, both actresses are excellent, giving attractive, superbly thought-out and above all, funny performances. There are, apparently, already Oscar whispers for Curtis, but Lohan is, if anything, equally deserving, despite the fact that Curtis’ scenes get the bigger laughs – her goofy grins when she meets Annabel’s prospective boyfriend are a case in point.

The script is excellent, too – there are lots of laugh-out-loud moments, as well as some great visual gags and several cracking one-liners. It’s also very well structured and pays off everything beautifully with a hilarious climax that possibly owes a little nod towards Back to the Future.

The only dodgy bit of the film is the "weird Asian voodoo" (the fortune cookie comes courtesy of the local Chinese restaurant owner and her crazy mother) that sets the whole thing up. There have been a number of Hollywood movies with uncomfortable Asian stereotypes lately and it seems unnecessary here – in the original film, they swapped places because they both wished the same thing at the same time.

That minor quibble aside, this is a well scripted, brilliantly acted, thoroughly enjoyable family comedy that deserves to be seen by mothers and daughters everywhere. It’s also warm-hearted, frequently hilarious and genuinely moving – bring tissues. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Freaky Friday (2003) (PG)
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Content updated: 18/10/2017 23:10

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