Freaky Friday Marks 20th Anniverary

Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan in Freaky Friday. Courtesy of Disney.

Freaky Friday, the Disney classic starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan, marks the 20th anniversary since its theatrical release.

Fans will be happy to know that a sequel is in development with Elyse Hollander penning the script. However, any writing or rewriting of the script is on hold because of the current WGA strike. Depending on where the script is, filming is likely to happen next year. I’d certainly watch a sequel but it would need to be good. Not a sequel just for the sake of making a sequel. It’s one of the worst problems about today’s Hollywood–too many franchises are becoming franchises even though many sequels never live up to the original film. Funny enough, this one was a remake of a 1976 movie and it came eight years after a made-for-TV movie that aired on ABC. Produced on a $26 million budget, Freaky Friday earned just over $160 million.

Anna Coleman (Lindsay Lohan), and her mother, Tess Coleman (Jamie Lee Curtis) switch bodies on the Friday of Tess’s rehearsal dinner. It follows a night of arguing while dining out at a Chinese restaurant. Anna has been rather unhappy with how her mother treats her. She also is not fully accepting of her soon-to-be-step-father, Ryan (Mark Harmon). Tess prohibits Anna from joining her friends at their band audition on the same night as the rehearsal dinner. Could you blame her? Anyway, this sets everything in motion. It also makes for some fun comedy and brilliant performances. If I had a vote, I would have nominated Jamie Lee Curtis for Best Actress at the time. I’ll get back to this shortly.

If not for Ryan telling Anna-as-Tess to get to the audition and support Tess-as-Anna, it’s possible the two might be stuck forever. But after the audition, Anna-as-Tess delivers a toast, which is her way of accepting Ryan into their lives, and they get their rightful bodies back. Yes, the story is more or less predictable. What makes it so charming, really, is the acting of both Curtis and Lohan.

There are certainly things here that one would have to do differently today. For instance, the Asian American aspect of it does come off as racist. Are they really there just for the purpose of setting the body switch in motion? Again, we’re talking about a film from twenty years ago. While it would be unfair to look at the film through today’s lens, it is something to keep in mind for the sequel. Would they do it again in that way? I hope not.

While Jamie Lee Curtis now has an Oscar in her hands for her performance in Everything Everywhere All At Once, she should have another nomination for her work in this film. It’s not far-fetched after rewatching the film. I’ve watched the film a number of times, not that my Letterboxd logs have much to show for it. It certainly says something about the streak of Lindsay Lohan comedies in the late 1990s and early 2000s with The Parent Trap, Mean Girls, Freaky Friday, and more. Anyway, what makes a difference in Curtis’s performance here is that she did so with no time to prepare. Annette Bening was initially set to play Tess–what a difference that would have made. Curtis makes some amazing choices here. The look on Mark Harmon’s face when he sees Jamie riding the motorcycle with Chad Michael Murray is priceless!

Freaky Friday could have been just another remake but Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan make it a classic that still entertains audiences twenty years later.

DIRECTOR: Mark Waters
SCREENWRITERS: Heather Hach and Leslie Dixon
CAST: Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Harold Gould, Chad Michael Murray, Stephen Tobolowsky, Christina Vidal, Ryan Malgarini, Haley Hanson, Rosalind Chao, Lucille Soong, Willie Garson, Dina Waters, Julie Gonzalo, and Mark Harmon

Disney released Freaky Friday in theaters on August 6, 2023. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.