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Freaky Friday (2003) DVD Review

Freaky Friday

Theatrical Release: August 1, 2003 / Running Time: 97 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Mark Waters

Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis (Tess Coleman), Lindsay Lohan (Anna Coleman), Mark Harmon (Ryan), Harold Gould (Grandpa), Chad Michael Murray (Jake), Stephen Tobolowsky (Mr. Bates), Ryan Malgarini (Harry Coleman), Christina Vidal (Maddie), Haley Hudson (Peg), Rosalind Chao (Pei-Pei), Lucille Soong (Pei-Pei's Mom), Willie Garson (Evan), Dina Waters (Dottie Robertson)


In recent years, Disney has remade some popular films with mixed results. The '90s saw remakes of The Absent-Minded Professor and The Parent Trap, plus new spins on other studio films Angels in the Outfield and Mighty Joe Young. Disney's 1977 comedy Freaky Friday (coming to DVD in June) isn't as popular or as old as those other films, but nonetheless, the decision to remake the film did not seem like a bad idea.

Having already tackled duplicating Hayley Mills (in her finest dual role, no less), Lindsay Lohan was quickly in place to play the role of the daughter who switches bodies with her mother, a role performed by a young Jodie Foster in the original film. The rest of the casting was less firm. With Foster declining to play the role of the mother this time, Annette Bening was hired. In a touch of Disney synergy, Kelly Osbourne of "The Osbournes" was slated to play Lohan's best friend. Tom Selleck was to play the husband-to-be.

Nonetheless, when filming started in the fall of 2002, all three were gone. In their place were Jamie Lee Curtis as the mother, Christina Vidal (the young star of Life with Mikey) as the best friend, and Mark Harmon as fiance Ryan. When the film was released less than a year later, Curtis won rave reviews, and later was nominated for a Golden Globe Best Actress award.

Curtis does deserve praise, as she both successfully brings her middle-aged character Tess Coleman to life and takes what could be a cartoonish body-switch gag and makes it convincing. Curtis almost calls to mind Tom Hanks' brilliant performance in the 1988 body-switching comedy Big. It's rare for such a substantial middle-aged adult performance to turn up in a live action Disney film. Certainly, Richard Farnsworth's leading role in The Straight Story was excellent, but that was neither middle-aged nor standard Disney family fare. The closest that comes to mind in recent history is Bruce Willis' able performance in The Kid, though even that could have undoubtedly used some refinement.

But enough with the critical analysis, what's this movie about, you ask? Well, it's a pretty original concept, assuming you didn't see the original Freaky Friday, the 1995 TV remake, or Vice Versa or Like Father, Like Son. Nonetheless, like all those films, this Freaky Friday has a distinct appeal on premise alone. Anna Coleman (Lohan) is a 15-year-old high school student who appreciates sleeping in late, fashionable dressing, and punk rock. Her mother, Tess Coleman (Curtis), is a hard-working psychologist and writer, who gets by with a collection of portable electronic communication devices.

While Tess is excited about her new book and her new wedding to Ryan (Harmon), Tess is more excited about her garage band, The Pink Slips, and an opportunity to rehearse in front of a real crowd. Of course, this opporunity conflicts with her mother's wedding rehearsal dinner, making just another topic for mother and daughter to argue over. This can be added to a list which includes wakeup time, sibling privacy, and body piercings. When dining at a Chinese restaurant, the Coleman family gets a shakeup, when some "strange Asian voodoo" works through a fortune cookie. The next morning, Anna and Tess have switched bodies.

Now on this freaky Friday, mother and daughter will have to see what it's like to be daughter and mother. While the obvious physical humor ensues, so does some genuine perspective-shifting and a bit of witty interplay arising from the situations.

For a film which so clearly telegraphs its message and attempts to 'hiply' speak to today's world, Freaky Friday works surprisingly well. That's not to say it's a great film, but rather it nearly overcomes these rather intimidating guidelines it sets up for itself and actually remains somewhat fresh and likable. By trying to create modern situations and characters, Freaky Friday not only puts it at odds with a cynical world, but sets it up to feel very dated in the near-future. For the time being, though, viewers will find it entertaining and brisk.

Lindsay Lohan is clearly overmatched by Jamie Lee Curtis, and though younger male audiences will be enamored with her looks, there are some bright moments in her acting that enable the film to work, or nearly work. While the romantic element and love triangle don't exactly work, the larger, more obvious theme of switching places and understanding one another manages to engage and nearly refrain from being heavy-handed.

Last thing worth mentioning is to look for the cameo by Mark McClure, who played Jodie Foster's love interest in the original Freaky Friday. This time around, his character's name is still Boris, but he's a delivery man.

Buy Freaky Friday from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
1.33:1 Reformatted Fullscreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English
THX-Certified
Closed Captioned
Release Date: December 16, 2003
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
White Keepcase

VIDEO and AUDIO

Freaky Friday is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, been enhanced for 16x9 televisions. There is a fullscreen presentation on the same disc, which is a mix of cropping (in which a portion of the picture is lost) and open matte (in which you gain some image that wasn't intended to be seen). Picture quality is, not surprisingly, flawless. The print is, as it should be for such a brand new film, entirely clean and clear. For the most part, it's pretty sharp and detailed as well. Including both versions of the film did not result in anything less than first-rate video quality, so kudos to Disney for this decision, provided that it came after a shortage of bonus features and that a reformatted fullscreen presentation didn't mean extras (like the trailer) were discarded.

A widescreen shot of "Freaky Friday" Same shot in Pan & Scan

There is just one audio track, and it is a Dolby Digital 5.1 selection. The film does feature some cringeworthy punk remixes (from the opening "Happy Together" to "What a Wonderful World" and Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time"). Also, the film's score did not entirely seem to match the film. But as a criticism of the soundtrack (though undoubtedly, this is a complaint with the film's sound mix and not the DVD mastering job), the musical selections were a great deal louder than the rest of the film, and thus were jarring to the viewer.

Main Menu

EXTRAS

For a recent film, Disney's DVD of Freaky Friday is surprisingly light on extra features.

Backstage Pass with Lindsay Lohan just skims the surface, but for an 8-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, it actually provides a genuine first-person on-the-set look at the film's production. It's amusing, and no doubt, it's the highlight of extra features. Plus there's even some clips from the original Freaky Friday, which is finally making its DVD debut this summer.

There is a Deleted Scene which attempts to provide closure between Anna and her high school nemesis. With introduction and explanation from director Mark Waters, it runs a whopping 40 seconds total.

Backstage Pass with Linsday Lohan "What I Like About You" Music Video "Me Vs. The World" Music Video

Freaky Bloopers is a 2-minute reel of outtakes and set shenanigans set to this site's theme, "Ultimate" performed by Lindsay Lohan. There are a few minor laughs.

Freaky Jams contains two music videos. First is Lillix's remix of "What I Like About You" (2:51), which ran on the Disney Channel 18,000 times this past summer, and showcases Lindsay Lohan. Second is Halo Friendlies performing "Me vs. the World" (4:00) in a garage like the movie. There is an Easter Egg in this section: clicking the picture of Jamie Lee Curtis takes you to a 32-second letterboxed clip of the actress jamming with her guitar.

Alternate Endings shows the two different endings, or rather two different edits of the existing edit considered being used. It runs 1 minute and 26 seconds including the explanations from director Waters. After this, the actual film ending in shown (in fullscreen).

The menus are animated and when you select the fortune cookie in the center, things get freaky and both mother and daughter change outfits. It's a clever and fun use of menus, that thematically works.

Previews at the start of the DVD are for Hidalgo, The Lion King 1 , Spy Kids 3-D, and for the Upcoming 2-disc Special Editions of Alice in Wonderland, Pocahontas, and Lilo & Stitch. From the "Sneak Peeks" menu, you can also see previews of Lilo & Stitch's Island of Adventures DVD Game and Freaky Friday's soundtrack.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Freaky Friday is not a great film and it doesn't really make great use of DVD's bonus feature potential. Nonetheless, it is amusing lightweight fare that you'll enjoy quite a bit, particularly if you don't mind formulaic films or not-so-subtle 'messages.' It is a fun comedy, and I have no doubt that many do and will enjoy this remake for years to come.

More on the DVD

UltimateDisney.com | Review Index | Recent Live Action (1980-Present) Films Page

Related Reviews
The original: Freaky Friday (1977)
Other films from Summer of 2003:
Finding Nemo (2003) | The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

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