For such a low expectation film, Freaky Friday 2003 is surprisingly enjoyable. It is a different film to the 1977 original. Freaky Friday 1977 was much more zany, a product of the 1970s Disney era of wacky screwball comedies. On the other hand, Freaky Friday 2003 feels like the same story has been constructed along the lines of one of the mid-1980s Baby Boomer bodyswap comedies such as Like Father, Like Son (1987) and Vice Versa (1988), where the focus is less on slapstick as it is on character-driven comedy and a crossover arc where a starchy mid-40s parent ends up swapping places with a slightly troubled teenager. Most noticeably in the 1977 film, though Barbara Harris and Jodie Fosters mother and daughter argued, Fosters character was a good girl whose conflicts with her mother never strayed beyond the close confines of Disneys appeal to conservative family values. By contrast, Lindsay Lohans Annabel here is much more rebellious, argumentative and cynically disaffected she is a member of the navel-piercing and grunge garage band generation. Moreover, the film questions the mothers values and concludes they are in need of loosening up, something that never entered into the realm of thinking in the 1977 film. The 2003 version even goes to the mildly indecent extent of having the teenage boyfriend Chad Michael Murray attracted to the mother instead of the daughter.
Freaky Friday 2003 lacks the out-and-out zaniness of its predecessor and is a lot more low-key and realistic. Nevertheless, it still gets a good degree of amiable mileage out of the playoff of the two characters. Jamie Lee Curtis ended up receiving a surprise Golden Globe nomination for her part. Jamie Lee has always seemed a very intellectual performer someone who radiates a sober intelligence rather than comes across as a performer of the heart. She hasnt been seen on screen in a big way since James Camerons True Lies (1994) and probably did her own career no amount of damage since taking an admirable public stance in refusing to bow to pressure to hold the body beautiful. It is good to see her back on screen. She has a lot of fun in the role, swooning over teenage boys, wowing audiences on a tv chat show and dealing out advice to her mothers patients.
Neglected at the awards, but deservous in every way in fact one actually suspects giving a better performance than Jamie Lee Curtis herself is a seventeen year-old Lindsay Lohan. Lohan does an excellent job of making the switch between cynically disaffected teen and the conservatively assured mother. She delineates the two roles with a command of the body language that is amazingly confident and talented for someone of such young age. Indeed, both actresses have done an excellent job of combining to swap mannerisms for the two parts. Lohan should have won awards attention just as much as Jamie Lee Curtis did. [Mindedly, this was written sometime before Lindsay Lohan became a bad tabloid headline and essentially pissed her career down the toilet with drug, alcohol and partying problems and where she could still be seen as a promising talent on the rise]. All others in the cast perform well, although the black mark against Freaky Friday should be the bad racial caricatures of the Chinese mother and daughter Lucille Soong and Rosalind Chao.
Director Mark Waters has also made light mainstream comedies such as The House of Yes (1997), Head Over Heels (2001) and subsequently went onto Mean Girls (2004), Mr. Poppers Penguins (2011) and Bad Santa 2 (2016). He returned to genre material with the supernatural romantic comedy Just Like Heaven (2005), the goblin fantasy The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008), the romantic comedy Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009) and Vampire Academy (2014).
(Nominee for Best Actress (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Best Actress (Lindsay Lohan) at this sites Best of 2003 Awards).