Sunday, September 14, 2008

'freaky friday'

It may be unpopular to say this these days, what with schaudenfreude and all, but I liked the "Freaky Friday" remake with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan."
"Freaky Friday" ostensibly is based on the book by Mary Rodgers, though Evangeline (who read the book and enjoyed it) assures me that neither movie follows the book too closely. In a nutshell, the plot is that a mother and her daughter end up switching bodies and seeing life through one another's eyes for an entire day. In the original movie, it was because they both wished they could change places, at the same time; in the remake, it was because of a Chinese fortune cookie gone bad.
I have to say, I liked the remake quite a bit. The original movie, made in the early 1970s with Jodie Foster, was decent enough, I suppose. The girls liked the funny stuff, like when the police chased Annabel to the marina and suffered one mishap after another -- a squad car gets cut in two at one point, though neither officer is hurt -- but it seemed to me like the movie never got past the obvious jokes. (Nor particularly past some rather narrowly defined expectations for young girls. All Foster's Annabel wanted to do was to put on makeup and brush her hair.)
The remake, because it was made only seven or eight years ago, had a drastically altered treatment of the story. The original mother was a stay-at-home mom, and so you had the standard jokes about a teenager getting overwhelmed by laundry, carpet cleaners and other housewife stuff. And of course there was no real conflict between the mother and the daughter. It was just "Boy, she doesn't appreciate how rough I have it and how easy she has it." The remake follows a widow who is remarrying and a 15-year-old daughter who resents the interloper, and really plays into the mother not understanding her daughter and her situation nearly as well as she thinks she does.
And of course, Jamie Lee Curtis kicks ass. So does Lindsay Lohan for that matter, however unpopular it may be to say that, what with the popularity of schaudenfreude and her misfortunes the last several years. She doesn't upstage Curtis, but she definitely plays a better teen and mother-in-teen's-body than Foster did.
So while the first one went for the standard yuk-yuk-yuks, the remake reinterprets the story in some impressive and imaginative ways. It got more laughs from me, and deeper ones, than the original did, and went quite a bit further with the character development. It's not really clear that Annabel and her mother changed all that much in the original "Freaky Friday"; in the remake, the movie spends more time establishing their pre-Friday difficulties, and shows them realizing how selfish and myopic they've been about their relationship. By the time it's over, there has been major character growth for both of them.
I also saw the remake of "The Parent Trap," or most of it anyway, a while ago. It's not nearly as clever or as inventive as this one. It follows the original movie way too closely to have been worth doing. In my opinion anyway.

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