For once in these bodyswap comedies, the two central performers have combined to closely tie their mannerisms together. The joy of the film is Barbara Harriss boisterous performance. She has the ability to make the activities of a roaming false eyelash into something side-splitting. Her sly preening to the audience persuading Marc McClure to drive: In the very least Im a fruitcake, but what kind of a person are you to let a fruitcake drive a car? is wonderful. It is a truly great shame that Barbara Harris seems to have entirely vanished from the acting profession today. Jodie Foster, who had just come from the success of Taxi Driver (1976) and only age 14, gives a fine performance too.
The film is full of so many droll, witty deadpan gags just the image of housewife Barbara Harris skateboarding down the driveway before her bewildered husband John Astin. There are a number of rather entertaining slapstick scenes with out-of-control washing machines and an electric typewriter that manage to blow up a whole classroom. Although by the climactic chase where several cop cars in predictable Disney fashion take to the air, get triangularly compacted and bifurcated by crashes into walls, and Jodie Foster takes to the air on a set of water-skis, things get a little over-the-top even for this.
Disney later remade this as a tv movie Freaky Friday (1995) with Shelley Long and Gaby Hoffmann in the mother-daughter roles, and then conducted an amiable cinematically-released remake Freaky Friday (2003) with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan in the respective roles.
Freaky Friday was the highpoint of tv director Gary Nelsons career. Nelson next made the flop Disney science-fiction outing The Black Hole (1979) and Cannons Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1986). The rest of Nelsons work has been in television.