There are many teen comedy movies out there, most of them far too mediocre. But once in a while, when the cast and crew come up with a simple script and still manage to make that a lot of fun, and maybe even slightly unpredictable, that is when you hit the sweet spot. The 2003 release Freaky Friday, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan in the lead roles, is an example. It hits all the right notes despite presenting a familiar premise — body switch. We have had that before, and since. Hot Chick and Tom Hanks-starrer Big come to mind in the before category. And since Freaky Friday, there have been way too many to keep count (read Change-Up, It’s a Boy Girl Thing, 13 Going on 30, 17 Again, The Swap to name some). In fact, Freaky Friday itself is a remake/adaptation of an earlier Hollywood flick starring Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris in central parts.
Jamie Lee’s character Tess is a single, soon-to-be-married mother of a 15-year-old daughter Anna (portrayed by Lohan). After a fateful fortune cookie consumption at a restaurant, Anna and Tess wake up in each other’s bodies the next day. They had had a major conflict earlier over Tess’ wedding, and how she forbid Anna from going to one of her music rehearsals on the night of the big day. So, here we have our main leads, the big conflict, followed by a fantastical twist which drives the narrative forward and pushes it in hilarious, sometimes loud and at other times slightly uncomfortable directions. Which is all great, because that is all we can hope from a decent feature. To make you laugh, to maybe surprise you and to ultimately connect with you.
Both Lohan and Curtis are credible dramatic performers, but their comedic chops are also decent enough to keep you engaged throughout. And what is great about a ‘body switch’ movie is that you get to push the envelope as a performer. You have to make yourself convincing to the audience twice over. I mean, once is hard enough for many actors. While Curtis is of course a seasoned actor, even a veteran at the time she took up this role, Lohan was very young. But the fact that they both kept pace with each other and with the script, showed up brilliantly in their chemistry. These two ladies make up the movie, and of course the director Mark Waters, who knew what to do with a seen and heard before story. Making something old seem new is no easy feat after all.
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There are a lot of cool moments in the film, like when Anna gives herself a new look when she is in her mother’s body, or when Jamie’s character hilariously hits on Anna’s crush. The situations are ready-made to keep the comedy alive and kicking throughout the complete duration of the film. But in this case, the story device of body switching was a gift, with Mark proving that even dated themes can be put to use effectively to improve your storyline.
You can watch Freaky Friday on Disney Plus Hotstar.