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Freaky Friday (A Video Review)

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Freaky Friday


Starring Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Heidi Blickenstaff, Jason Maybaum, Alex Désert, Ricky He, Kahyun Kim, Dara Renee, Isaiah Lehtinen, Jennifer LaPorte, Sarah Willey, Rukiya Bernard, Joshua Pak, Lauren McGibbon, Dave Hurtubise, Gary Jones, Paula Burrows, Jag Arneja, Julius Fair, Ryan Lawrie, Gaalen Engen, Colby Wilson, Jocelyne Loewen, Georgia Klebe-McCulloch, Pendo Muema, Kris Neufeld, Brody Romhanyi, Veronica Cormier and John Mee.

Screenplay by Bridget Carpenter.

Directed by Steve Carr.

Distributed by Walt Disney Home Video. 90 minutes. Not Rated.

Walt Disney pictures is all in now on its never-ending quest to boot and reboot and reboot again pretty much every movie in its massive back catalogue. No title or concept can be too old or forgotten to get a fresh coat of paint and be slapped back out there – a never-ending conveyor belt of pop-culture product. There are new kids born every moment, and they don’t necessarily know these stories have been done before. It is a constant flow of content and money.

This is actually the fourth time Freaky Friday has been filmed – a reboot of a property that had already been rebooted twice. It has been vaguely changed – ooh, now it’s a TV musical for post-millennials – but it is basically the same idea as the classic 1976 Barbara Harris/Jodie Foster movie: a squabbling mother and teenaged daughter come to respect each other when their personalities are magically switched for a day. (And, yes kids, Jodie Foster was the girl here, not the mom.) Then it was turned into a 1995 TV movie with Shelley Long and Gaby Hoffman. Then it was rebooted for the theaters in 2003 with Jamie Lee Curtis and a pre-flame-out Lindsay Lohan.

But, hey, that was 15 years ago. There are kids in high school who were not even born when the latest film was made. And, just perhaps, the Lohan connection is not as good a thing as it once was. (Lohan was briefly the young princess of Disney reboots, also taking part in the revivals of The Parent Trap and The Love Bug.)

So, why not go back to the well and make a newer version? And, hey, did they mention this version is a musical? (The musical version was also briefly done on stage before this version, which never set out to reach Broadway, but did play runs in Arlington, La Jolla, Houston and Cleveland in 2016 and 2017.)

In fairness, this new version is done on a much smaller scale – filmed directly for the Disney Channel and starring lots of people you’ve probably never heard of or have seen. And granted, Mary Rodgers’ original 1972 novel pretty much jump-started one of the most exploited film genres out there. In 1987 alone, there were four of these body-switching movies: Vice Versa, Like Father Like Son, 18 Again and Big. So, yes, Freaky Friday is a pretty important title – in its own sweet, simple way.

So, here we go again. It’s just another Freaky Friday.

Sad to say, it’s probably the least enjoyable of the bunch. (I can’t really talk about the Shelley Long version, which I’ve never seen.) The new Freaky Friday has its moments, and the storyline will always raise a smile, but the writing is suspect, the characters are a little unlikable, the songs are unmemorable and frankly the musical interludes stop the action cold pretty much every single time.

The new Freaky Friday also has a made-for-TV slick shallowness which is pretty hard to ignore. If this shows up on the Disney Channel and you don’t feel like changing the channel, you could do worse. However, if you want to see how this story became a staple in kid vid, you’re probably better off tracking down the Foster original or the Lohan remake.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2018 All rights reserved. Posted: September 26, 2018.

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