Director: Mark Waters
Writer: Heather Hach, Leslie Dixon
Based on: Mary Rodgers‘s book
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Mark Harmon, Harold Gould, Chad Michael Murray, Stephen Tobolowsky, Christina Vidal, Ryan Malgarini, Haley Hudson, Rosalind Chao, Lucille Soong, Willie Garson, Julie Gonzalo
Seen on: 13.4.2020
[Here’s my review of the 1976 version.]
Content Note: racism
Anna (Lindsay Lohan) and her mother Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis) don’t get along very well. While Tess is preparing for her wedding to Ryan (Mark Harmon), juggling a demanding career and just published a book, Anna is less goal-oriented. In fact, her interests only lie in her band – together with her friends Peg (Haley Hudson) and Maddie (Christina Vidal) – and Jake (Chad Michael Murray), the boy she’s been crushing on from afar. When things come to a head at a family dinner in a Chinese restaurant, the restaurant owner (Lucille Soong) decides to take matters into her own hands and hands Anna and Tess two fortune cookies that the crack open. When they wake up the next morning, they have swapped bodies – and both have to learn that things aren’t easy for either of them.
Before I watched the film, I could have sworn that I had seen it, even if that was many years ago. But now that I did watch it, I’m pretty sure that all I saw of it were gifsets. In any case, Freaky Friday is fun enough, despite the racist twist on the “curse”, and there are definitely some interesting points to make when you compare it to the version that came almost 30 years before.
The 70s version in its 50s view of family life was quite a trip, but it provides also the most interesting material for comparison when you look at Tess in particular. Whereas the mom in the 70s had to be the perfect little wife, reading every wish off her husband’s eyes, before he even has a chance to formulate said wish, keeping the house in order and raising the kids on her own, in this version Tess is not only a single mom (widowed) who has to juggle two kids, but is also expected to have a career and find her own personal romantic fulfilment with Ryan. It shows very plainly how expectations for women have shifted and how “women can have it all” has quickly turned to “women must do it all and look awesome while they’re at it”.
Admittedly, this was the most engaging part for me about the film, though I did also quite like the song that Anna plays with her band (I’m a child of the 90s/early 00s after all). Plus, Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan work very well together.
But there were still parts that filled me with unease. Above all that’s the racist “Chinese voodoo” (yes, that’s a direct quote from the film) angle that was offensive and uncalled for. The story would have worked just as well without it (or any other explanation). And the whole “Jake falls in love with Tess (while Anna is in her body but still)” thing that is just very awkward. I mean, do you really want to start a relationship like that? It’s creepy.
Anyway, the film does have fun moments, mostly due to Lohan and Curtis. And the message calling for more understanding of each other, is nice, even if delivered with a sledgehammer. Regardless the film didn’t exactly win me over. It’s okay, that’s all.