Freaky Friday (2003)

(Netflix Streaming, September 2015) I have very dim memories of seeing the original 1976 Freaky Friday as a kid, but I don’t think that it changed me or anything.  This remake won’t have much of an impact either, given how closely it sticks to its body-switching premise and the most obvious implications of it.  Here, Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan play a mother/daughter pair who, thanks to mysterious Chinese magic, swap bodies on a most inconvenient day.  It goes without saying that the mom is an overachieving control freak and that the daughter is a just as stereotypically rebellious teenager.  Both of them learn valuable life lessons, they learn about walking a day in the other person’s shoes and the universe goes back to normal.  The script slickly sets up all of the target it later takes down, leading to an experience that’s as professionally put-together as it’s intensely predictable.  Given that it’s aimed at teenagers, the film plays dumb often, failing the “would this happen in our reality?” test several times.  The shortcuts to show adolescent rebelliousness are crude, which is reinforces by a mildly annoying soundtrack that repurposes older songs in a punk style. (Let’s face it, though; as a teen I probably would have thought this would have been awesome.  Alas, I’m closer to parent of a teenager than a teenager nowadays.)  Still, Freaky Friday does have its redeeming qualities: Jamie Lee Curtis is pretty good when she’s letting her inner teenager run rampant, and a pre-downfall Lindsey Lohan shows what comic skills she once had.  There are a few chuckles here and there despite the rote nature of the film, and I suppose that everything could have been a lot worse.  The film’s heart is in the right place, and by the time the happy ending rolls around, I doubt that anyone cares.

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