|While some older viewers may balk at seeing a cult classic cinematically rehashed, those viewers will be delightfully surprised when they are treated to a film that is as entertaining as the original and probably more heartwarming due to the realistic chemistry between Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan. They play the mother-daughter duo who switch bodies after a meddling Chinese woman decides to give them a chance to see how daily life is for the other. The plot is nearly identical to the first film, though the situations have been duly updated for a 21st century audience.|
What brings this movie to life is the effort put into the characters by the actors. The laughs aren't forced and it doesn't seem like any of the one-liners were put in there just so the people who cut together the trailers would have something to play with. And the plot never stalls to concentrate on character development. The audience learns about the characters while the plot is still humming along, so the film never hits a dead spot. Which is very important in a youth-oriented comedy such as Freaky Friday.
Since the main audience for this film will be young, teenaged girls, it's necessary for the film to trot along at a brisk pace, so as not to lose the short attention span of the typical young viewer. But in pacing their film fast, the production team didn't lose sight of the character building required to make the audience "root" for those characters and want to see them succeed. The enthusiastic performances and the heart the actors infuse into their roles ensure that the characters are likeable in any case, but the well-paced editing and story ensure that the characters remain interesting.
After a few rather disappointing feature film choices, it's a relief to see Jamie Lee Curtis involved in a film as innocently funny as this one. It's doubtful that her last box office outing in the never-ending series of Halloween films did nothing for her professional reputation. And although Freaky Friday is no Shakespearean experience, it still hits all the marks a comedy should, mainly because of its cast. In her second role in a Disney remake (her first being in 1998's updating of The Parent Trap, Lindsay Lohan makes a believable and likeable character out of "Annabell Coleman."
The mother-daughter dynamic between Curtis and Lohan is so believable that by the end of the film, it's not difficult in the least to remain completely focused on the film, believing that these two women have exchanged bodies. While the concept is ridiculous in the real world, both Curtis and Lohan do a fine job of convincing us that body exchanges could indeed exist. And while those two actresses are responsible for much of the value of this film, the supporting actors also make well-done appearances. Mark Harmon, playing Curtis's fiancé, makes his role more robust than it might have been by infusing a needed amount of emotion and warmth into the character that a less-discriminating actor may have missed.
The real value in this film stems from its ability to entertain the audience while simultaneously feeding them a rather well-trod lesson in the process. It's a family-oriented lesson we've seen countless times in the past, but it doesn't feel like a rehashing of events in this film. Thanks should probably go to the editor for keeping the picture on a fast track that didn't leave behind any important character development. It's not an easy task to cut a film so that it retains some character yet doesn't get bogged down somewhere in the second act.
It's doubtful that anybody in the audience will be looking at their watches in boredom during the film because it's more entertaining than one might think. As a good piece of entertainment for young and old viewers, parents should not feel burdened in taking their children to this film. Though fans of the original film might be rather perturbed that a film less than thirty years old was remade, 2003's Freaky Friday seems to be just as entertaining. At a time when the first version has finally started to show its age (in societal tendencies since the fashions have long been out-of-date), this remake stands on a strong pair of legs and is an enjoyable experience.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.