A review of “Freaky Friday” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: PG for mildly risqué situations

Run Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

 

 

The original 1977 “Friday” (starring an adolescent Jodie Foster) is a tough comic act to follow, but teen actress Lindsay Lohan offers a fresh spin on a cautionary tale of “be careful what you wish for”.

Sharp scripting places this refreshing farce squarely into the Good Summer Fun category.  Fifteen-year old Anna (Lohan) and her hyper-scheduled psychoanalyst mom Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis) are warring in classic mother-daughter fashion.  Anna’s room is a disaster, and Tess’ curfew rules are an abomination. Anna’s in trouble at school, and Tess is re-marrying just three short years after dad’s untimely death. The list of mutual transgressions is endless. 

When the age-old battle finally goes ballistic, it blows with a twist.  During a family gathering at the local Chinese diner, Anna accuses Tess of having the perfect (read: easy) life, and Tess fires back that she’d give anything to have her irresponsible high school days still in front of her.  Rattle and roll, a little fortune-cookie voodoo, and poof!, Anna and Tess find themselves inhabiting each other’s bodies, stuck there until they can demonstrate the not-so-subtle art of selflessness towards one another.

A modicum of acting talent is required to pull off the kind of transition that spans several decades of generation gap. Or a personality makeover. Think Tom Hanks in “Big” or John Travolta/Nicolas Cage in “Face/Off”.  “Friday” works in large part because Curtis and Lohan are clearly having fun with their shoe-on-the-other-foot exchange, facing unfamiliar life horrors at every turn. 

Anna/Tess rifles through mom’s wallet and discovers plastic (Platinum!), treating herself to a killer shopping spree and updating her look from urban professional to va-va-voom. Her impending nuptials are a roadblock, as are daily therapy sessions with apprehensive patients.  On the teen scene, Tess/Anna must navigate the emotional stress of a bad-boy crush (on hunky Chad Murray as Jake), an unreasonably spiteful English teacher, and the unprecedented terror of fronting a garage band with no knowledge of the guitar.

Genuine warmth and humor pervade the shenanigans. Bit players in the form of a puzzled little brother and a pushing-my-patience fiancé add to the hilarity, which threatens to stray into slapstick territory.  But “Friday” shrewdly touches on the deeper issues intrinsic to the modern family – anxiety over a new parent in the house, premature adolescent sexuality, and setting mutually satisfactory limits.

Moms and their teenage daughters have struggled for centuries to connect. Bridging that yawning chasm is the yin and yang of this cheerful, well-executed charmer.