Young Star

Freaking out

BACKSTAGE PASS - Lanz Leviste -
Jamie Lee Curtis first stepped into Hollywood’s limelight with her breakout role in John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic Halloween. She has then starred in such films as A Fish Called Wanda, True Lies, The Tailor of Panama and some of the other Halloween sequels. But never in her entire career has she exhibited such a brilliant performance as she did in Freaky Friday, a remake of the 1976 original starring Barbara Harris and a young Jodie Foster, which was based on the book by Mary Rodgers.

In Friday, Curtis plays Tess Coleman, a fortysomething widow a few days away from marrying her current beau Ryan (Mark Harmon). In the Jodie Foster role is Lindsay Lohan (from 1998’s The Parent Trap, which is coincidentally a remake of the 1961 original) as Anna, Tess’ rebellious teenager who disapproves of her mom’s fiancé. The mother and daughter bicker and argue endlessly about every petty thing; Tess objects to Anna’s rock band, Anna doesn’t like Ryan. However, a few days before the big day, while dining in a Chinese restaurant, the film’s trademark fortune cookie scene occurs. The mother of Pei-Pei, the restaurant’s owner, puts an ancient oriental curse on the mother and daughter, and using two fortune cookies, forces them to switch bodies. Complications ensue the next day, Friday, when Tess, as Anna, goes to her daughter’s school, hangs out with her friends (Christina Vidal and Haley Hudson) and flirts with Jake (Chad Michael Murray), Anna’s longtime crush. On the other hand, Anna, as her mom Tess, takes charge of her mom’s psychiatry patients, embarrasses her on TV, and gives herself a wild, more Anna-ish makeover. Along the way, they both learn how hard it is to live each other’s lives, and ultimately, gain the respect and love for each other they need to switch back just in time for the wedding (Spoiler alert: This was obviously not a spoiler).

As I’ve said, Jamie Lee Curtis gives the best performance of her career in Freaky Friday. Her ability to transform herself from her mid-40s self to an immature teen rebel is simply astonishing; if the Oscars were held next week, without all the Oscar contenders and Academy staples like Julia Roberts (Mona Lisa Smile) or Nicole Kidman (Cold Mountain), she’d probably win Best Actress. Also Lindsay Lohan gives an excellent, seemingly organic performance, and shows definite signs of a blossoming comedic career; maybe even as a less ditzy Reese Witherspoon.

Besides its performances, the other factor that makes Freaky Friday great is its screenplay by Leslie Dixon and Heather Hach. This remake could’ve easily been awkward and cumbersome if placed in the wrong hands, but the screenwriters, with director Mark Waters, gives us something unflinchingly fresh. It’s charming and breezy in every way, with every line in the film spiked with an unwavering amount of wit and humor that makes it, next to Finding Nemo, the best family film of the year.

But don’t be fooled with first impressions. Just because I call it a family film doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily for thumb-sucking toddlers. With every 30-plus I’ve recommended Friday to, they’ve all given me the same, I’m-not-watching-a-Disney-movie look. People, haven’t we learned anything from Finding Nemo?! Kid movies can be good! (Note to Treasure Planet and Sinbad: You are definitely not part of this group.)

Bottom Line: I wouldn’t switch this exceptionally witty, refreshingly charming, hilarious comedy with any other.

Grade: A-
To Do List Movies
• Don’t watch My Boss’ Daughter. Inanity and stupidity reign in this rotten comedy starring Ashton Kutcher and Tara Reid that is the farthest thing from funny.

• Don’t watch The Rundown. Thus continues this weekend’s string of mindless movie offerings. This time we have The Rock as an airhead named Beck (Beck?) who rescues Seann William Scott’s Travis in this uninspired, insipid action comedy. Don’t you just wish William Scott’ll just go back to being Stifler again. At least that was funny.
• Listen to the Freak Friday soundtrack. Another good thing about the film is its punk-pop-rock soundtrack, which features a better, edgier version of Britney’s "…Baby One More Time" and two songs from Anna’s band Pink Slip, which are sung in the film: "Take Me Away" and my current favorite song, "Ultimate."
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For comments, questions and suggestions, e-mail me at [email protected].











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