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'Freaky Friday'

'Freaky Friday' not profound but fun

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Lindsay Lohan, it would appear, is Disney's go-to girl for remakes. She played twin sisters in 1998's "The Parent Trap," an updated version of the family favorite starring Hayley Mills, and now she's trading places with her mom in the comedy "Freaky Friday."

 
 
"Freaky Friday"

Rating: PG for mild thematic elements and some language

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan

Director: Mark Waters

Critic's Call:

   
 

That, too, was a Disney movie, albeit a far less successful one than "Parent Trap." In 1976, Barbara Harris and a young Jodie Foster played a suburban mother and young daughter who each finds herself in the other's body. Now, Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis are stepping into a modern telling of the story.

Before the mystical swap, Anna (Lohan) is a 15-year-old girl who refuses to get out of bed in the morning, is tormented by her younger brother, plays guitar in a garage band called Pink Slip, has a crush on a boy who rides a Ducati motorcycle and finds herself unfairly targeted by both a teacher and a girl who was once a good friend.

Her mother, psychologist Tess Coleman (Curtis), is a widow finalizing plans for her wedding to Ryan (Mark Harmon). She multitasks with the best of them, juggling two cell phones while grocery shopping. Tess has just written a book and is not above treating her daughter like a recalcitrant patient. "Anna, I am going to make one final attempt to understand what goes on in your head," an exasperated Tess says.

The morning after the two receive the same fortune at a Chinese restaurant, she begins to understand. Tess wakes up trapped in Anna's body, and Anna wakes up in the form of her baby-boomer mother.

That creates loads of complications as Anna must pretend to treat patients, Tess must try to survive a day of high school and both must figure out what they'll do that evening -- when Tess and Ryan have their rehearsal dinner. Caught on the freaky fringe are, among others, Anna's bandmates, the cool boy from school, plus Tess' son and addled father.

What's funnier, watching Lohan act all dignified and old school, or Curtis show her inner brat by financing a head-to-toe makeover with the mother's charge cards? It may depend on your age, but I thought Lohan actually did more with less.

Curtis plays immature with great giddiness and glee, but a subplot in which high-school heartthrob Jake (Chad Michael Murray) is attracted to the mother -- because he's really smitten with Anna, the girl inside -- flirts with being inappropriate. That plotline goes on way too long, and having Jake acknowledge that his attraction is "unconventional" just doesn't cut it. To its credit, the movie is very careful to never have the girl-in-a-woman's-body kiss or cuddle with the fiance.

A line about the young brother being bullied seems to present a failed opportunity, and an audition scene strains credibility, but what baby boomer won't enjoy the moment when the mother realizes that she can actually have french fries, because the teenage body can easily handle them?

"Freaky Friday" is no "Finding Nemo" or any other Disney classic, but it's a decent, fun family film about a mother and daughter who literally get to walk a mile (and, in this case, 93 minutes) in the other's shoes.


Barbara Vancheri can be reached at bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632.

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