Five years ago, Lindsay Lohan was the dynamic little fireball in the remake of Parent Trap, in which she was doubly responsible for playing the roles of twins separated not long after birth. She proved herself just as capable of projecting two very different personalities as had the talented Hayley Mills, who doubly starred in the 1961 original, a perennial favorite from the Disney stable. Half a decade later, Freaky Friday, another Disney film and itself a remake of a 1976 movie of the same title starring a very young Jodie Foster, pre-sents Lohan with much the same acting challenge—but this time, her two personas struggle across a gap more generational than intercontinental.
When Annabell Coleman (Lohan) and her mother, the widow Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis), find themselves arguing a bit too vociferously while dining in a Chinese restaurant, the proprietor's mother gives them each a fortune cookie with a whammy of a spell on it. When they awake the next morning, mother and daughter find themselves trapped in each other's body, where they're cursed to remain until they understand the fortune's cryptic message, which enjoins them both to perform selfless acts that consider the other's needs.
Jamie Lee Curtis is outstanding at portraying the sensibilities of a high school sophomore suddenly gifted with Mom's credit cards and an upscale Volvo. One of the film's many effective comic turns is when a phone call confirms Tess's appointment for a root canal and Annabell-as-Tess blurts out, "That's not fair—they're not my teeth!" Mom, now in Annabell's skin and playing her role at school, attempts to resolve an ongoing rivalry with one of her daughter's classmates by exercising mature reasoning and openness. The tactic could easily work in her adult world, but here in Teen Cruelsville it backfires, and she winds up in detention. Meanwhile, a high school senior (Chad Michael Murray) who is initially attracted to Annabell seems to follow her personality as it switches bodies, which Annabell at first finds alluring until she realizes the repellent possibilities. Ditto her apprehension toward her mother's fiancé (Mark Harmon), as repeated reminders of the cold sore from hell keep the suitor at bay. Ewww.
The video quality is decent, with a rich, colorful palette and images that are mostly sharp if somewhat artificially enhanced. Trying to cram both wide- and full-screen versions onto one side of a dual-layer DVD may solve some problems—such as the long, silent drive back to Wal-Mart because, once again, you've picked up the full-screen version by mistake—but it doesn't leave much room for a high-quality video transfer.
The sound, too, is fine, particularly in the scene where Annabell practices with her band, the Pink Slips, in the garage. It's an easily identifiable acoustic environment to anyone who's every played in one, and it sounds very real here. Two music videos, a deleted scene, a blooper reel, a behind-the-scenes feature, and a handful of previews complete the package.
The writing in Freaky Friday is witty, and parents who want to enjoy a movie with their children won't find themselves slighted by the clever repartée. But this one won't win any video awards.—FM