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Freaky Family Flip-Flop Flick Doesn’t Flop

The Verdict on ‘Freaky Friday’ -- Jamie Lee Curtis, You, Like, Totally Rock

By Fred Choi

Staff writer

Directed by Mark S. Waters

Written by Heather Hach

Based on the novel by Mary Rodgers

Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Mark Harmon, Harold Gould

Rated PG

Despite being a live-action film from that warhorse of all stodgy warhorses Walt Disney Studios, Freaky Friday, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan, is a feel-good comedy that’s hip enough that you won’t feel too embarrassed if you show up in the theater with someone other than your mom.

The premise of Freaky Friday is the same as that of the 1972 novel by Mary Rodgers and the 1976 movie adaptation, which starred a cute-as-a button Jodie Foster, fresh from her precocious turn in Taxi Driver. In all three, a mother and her willful adolescent daughter switch bodies for a day and learn to literally “walk in the other’s shoes,” with predictably warm and fuzzy results.

The remake, made no doubt due to the success of Lohan’s role in Disney’s 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, contemporizes the setting and the characters appropriately. Here Curtis plays Tess, a rather staid single mother raising a family while juggling cell phones and PDAs, and Lohan as her daughter, Annabell, who whines, sulks, and moans over an older boy, and plays in a rock band.

Like, are teenage girls like the most annoying thing ever or what? Not to worry -- despite Annabell’s trivial daily crises and the obligatory hokey ending, the movie throws in enough fun moments, especially in the scenes with Curtis as Annabell, to keep you watching to the end.

Although some scenes are a bit predictable and too many of the jokes were wasted because they were included in the previews, the film does a nice job of exploiting the humor in the confusion of the personality switch, as in Annabell’s reaction to being in Tess’s body (“I’m like the crypt keeper!”) and Tess’s reaction to being in Annabell’s body (“You pierced your navel?! ... Well, when you get your body back, it’s grounded!”).

Tess’s impending wedding and Annabell’s band audition adds needed suspense, while supporting characters, including Tess’s chipmunk-faced son Harry (Ryan Malgarini) and Annabell’s motorcycle-riding love interest Jake (Chad Murray), add some of the movie’s most hilarious moments. Keep an eye out for Harry’s increasingly baffled expression in the scene when he first encounters his switched mother and sister and the scene in the coffeehouse in which a completely confused Jake finds himself falling for the mom of the girl he liked.

Viewers who grew up listening to Michael Jackson or the Backstreet Boys instead of Elvis or Frank Sinatra may recognize that Heather Hach doesn’t quite get the teen’s slang right. Similarly, although Lohan does a competent job in the relatively straightforward role of Annabell playing Tess, Jamie Lee Curtis is a few years off in her portrayal of Tess as Annabell, acting more like a 12-year-old than a 15-year-old.

Still, she manages to inject enough raw enthusiasm and energy into the sometimes clever script that, with the help of the rest of the cast, makes this a viable mainstream alternative to the majority of summer’s painfully dull selections.