Movie Review


Freaky Friday

Production Company: Walt Disney
Director: Mark S. Waters
Principals: Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Mark Harmon
Rating: PG (mild thematic elements and some language)

By Gregg Tubbs

( -- In Disney’s new comedy Freaky Friday we meet two familiar characters: a mother and daughter who aren’t getting along. Dr. Tess Coleman (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her fifteen-year-old daughter, Anna (Lindsay Lohan), don’t see eye-to-eye on anything. They lock horns over clothes, hair, music, and the opposite sex. But that’s all about to change, thanks to a little movie magic and a pair of mysteriously identical fortune cookies. Soon, Tess and Anna will do much more than see eye-to-eye.

Freaky Friday
Everything changes for Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis, left) and Anna (Lindsay Lohan, right) in Walt Disney Pictures’ “Freaky Friday” when they open two identical Chinese fortune cookies that cause a little mystic mayhem in their lives. © Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
In a summer ripe with sequels (Matrix, Bad Boys, etc.) this is the first actual remake of an earlier film, Disney’s 1976 comedy of the same name, which starred the young Jody Foster as the daughter. It would have made for great movie trivia if Foster had reversed rolls and returned as the mother in the remake. But Jamie Lee Curtis has a proven flair for comedy and puts it to great use here as Tess, a psychiatrist and widowed mother struggling to raise her strong willed daughter, Anna.

One Thursday evening, while at a Chinese restaurant, their tensions boil over. They clash over the time Anna devotes to her band “The Pink Slips” (instead of school) and Tess’ choice in a fiancé (Mark Harmon). Their differences have become a virtual wall between them, and they can’t see or identify with the person on the opposite side. The wall comes tumbling down, when the dinner ends and they open their fortune cookies. They each hold an identical message that alludes to a “journey” about to begin and that an act of “selfless love” will bring them back. The next morning – Freaky Friday, that is – they awake to find that they’ve switched bodies. Tess is trapped in her daughter’s body and to her comical dismay, Anna is now locked in her mom’s middle-aged body. “I’m old!” she exclaims. “I’m like the Cryptkeeper!”

Freaky Friday
In Walt Disney Pictures’ Freaky Friday Anna has a hard time controlling her teenage tendencies in front of brother Harry (Ryan Malgarini, center) and future stepdad Ryan (Mark Harmon, right) now that she’s trapped in her mom’s (Curtis, left) body. © Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Ahead for them, is a crash course in empathy and judging others! An old Native American proverb says, “Let me not judge another until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.” This “walk” for mother and daughter results in a lot of comical mayhem along the way, delightfully played by Curtis, now acting like a teenage and Lohan, suddenly inhabited by her uptight mom. But it also helps them gain a little respect for the other’s point of view. The conservative Tess has forgotten what it’s like to face the pressures and rivalries of high school. And Anna hasn’t a clue about how to navigate the complex responsibilities of adult life. With Tess’ wedding coming up on Saturday, and an important performance for Anna’s band, the two must learn to work together and switch back fast!

As we learn from Tess and Anna, empathy, which is the act of seeing the world from another’s point of view is not easy – but it’s essential when you want to understand someone. The opposite of empathy is the urge to judge others – something the Bible writer cautioned against. Jesus taught that, because we have all sinned, we should not judge others. His humorous observation in Matthew 7:3 makes the point, “And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Such cautions about hasty judgments of others are echoed in the words of James who instructs us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19-20)

Freaky Friday
On the eve of Tess’s wedding, mother (Jamie Lee Curtis, right) and daughter (Lindsay Lohan, left) must find a way to switch back to their own bodies— and fast in Walt Disney Pictures’ Freaky Friday. © Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
God offered the ultimate act of both empathy and selfless love when he came to earth in the form of His son Jesus Christ. To bring us closer to him, he became like us. Jesus came to close the gulf that had grown between man and God by walking among us – in our moccasins, so to speak – to teach, heal and ultimately die to erase our sins. In this, he gave us the perfect example of selfless love.

You won’t be hearing much about Freaky Friday at Oscar® time. It’s a small, low profile film, that doesn’t tackle any important subjects or aspire to any lofty goals. But I found it to be one of the most surprisingly satisfying films so far this summer. And it’s suitable for the whole family! I went in with modest expectations, and was treated to more laughs, warmth and cleverness than I bargained for – and a few things to think about as well. I was pleasantly surprised, and you may be too.

Gregg Tubbs is a freelance writer living in Columbia, Maryland.

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