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FREAKY FRIDAY (article first published : 2004-03-11)

First filmed in 1976, when it teamed Barbara Harris and a teenage Jodie Foster, Freaky Friday is a frothy and featherlight remake joining a long line of screen comedies in which two people are plopped into chaos after a strange magical moment has them switching identities.

We saw it happen in Big, Vice Versa, Like Father, Like Son and, more recently, The Hot Chick.

With Freaky Friday, directed by Mark S Waters, we have young Lindsay Lohan, last seen playing twin sisters in the remake of The Parent Trap, in the Foster role.

She's Annabell, trendy and misunderstood teen daughter of a slightly overwrought but successful psychiatrist, Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis), who is about to marry a sweet guy, played by Mark Harmon.

Annabell is going through the usual teen traumas - constant fights with her kid brother Harry (Ryan Malgarini) and also the school bully; feelings of being misunderstood; big crush on the hottest guy at her school (Chad Michael Murray).

She's always in detention, battles to get good grades and she and her mom are simply not seeing eye to eye. Each accuses the other of having a life which, compared to their own, seems a pleasure cruise.

Then something weird - and rather silly - happens. After a scene involving a Chinese restaurant, fortune cookies and an earthquake, mother and daughter find themselves in each other's body, leading to embarrassing situations and a flow of amusing, fish-out-of water sequences.

Among them is Annabel, now in mum's body, being reluctant to even be pecked on the cheek by her increasingly bewildered fiance - and being grossed out by her older appearance: "I look like the crypt keeper!" she shrieks in front of a mirror.

Tess, in the body of her 15-year-old, also has her dilemmas, not least having to deal with immaturity and bullies. But there are perks - she gets to relive her youth and, with much help, even play guitar in a rock band. And she gets to sort out some of Annabell's problems by confronting a nasty teacher (Stephen Tobolowsky) and making progress with that cute hunk.

Annabell also has her pleasures in her mother's body: she updates her look, gets her ear pierced, drives Tess's car (badly), appears on TV promoting her mother's book and spends a fortune with credit cards. Through all the slapstick and splashes of sentiment, we get to the moral of the story - things are not necessarily greener on the other side of the generation gap and people have hang-ups and hassles at any age.

Freaky Friday is an undemanding, very enjoyable little romp, with tender moments. Both leads display great chemistry and deliver charming performances. Curtis's role, for the record, has clinched her a Golden Globe nomination for best comedy performance. The film gets a rating of 7/l0. - Billy Suter




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