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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Mark S. Waters
Cast:
Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Mark Harmon, Harold Gould, Chad Michael Murray, Stephen Tobolowsky, Christina Vidal, Ryan Malgarini
Writing Credits:
Mary Rodgers (novel), Heather Hach, Leslie Dixon

Tagline:
Every teenager's nightmare ... turning into her mother.

Synopsis:
In the tradition of The Princess Diaries, Disney's Freaky Friday is the extremely funny and heartwarming comedy everyone will love. Dr. Tess Coleman (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her teenage daughter Anna (Lindsay Lohan) have one thing in common - they don't relate to each other on anything. Not clothes, or men, or Anna's passion to be inia rock band. Nothing. Then one night a little mystic mayhem changes their lives and they wake up to the biggest freak-out ever. Tess and Anna are trapped inside each other's body! But Tess's wedding is Saturday, and the two must find a way to switch back - fast! Literally forced to walk in each other's shoes, will they gain respect and understanding for the other's point of view? Filled with comedy, rock 'n' roll and lots of heart, Freaky Friday is freaking fun every one can enjoy together.

Box Office:
Budget $26 million.
Opening Weekend
$22.203 million on 2954 screens.
Domestic Gross
$109.554 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 12/16/2003

Bonus:
• “Backstage Pass with Lindsay Lohan” Featurette
• Deleted Scene
• Alternate Endings with Director Introductions
• “Freaky Bloopers”
• Music Videos
• Easter Eggs
• Sneak Peeks
• THX Optimizer


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Freaky Friday (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 15, 2003)

In some ways, 1976’s Freaky Friday seemed like an odd film to remake. The original became a decent little success and remained memorable for many of us who were kids at the time. Heck, I always liked to joke that Jodie Foster won her first Oscar not for 1988’s The Accused but instead as a belated honor for her work in Friday.

However, a remake seemed unlikely just because the film had already been remade – literally and figuratively. A TV version aired back in 1995. In addition, the “different body” genre featured in Friday has been reworked many times, especially in the late Eighties, when we got three flicks - 18 Again, Vice Versa and Big - on the screens within three months of each other in 1988.

Nonetheless, the folks at Disney decided Friday was ripe for a redo, so they produced this new version in 2003. Apparently, this was a good idea, at least commercially. Friday emerged as a small but firm hit. With a gross of $109 million, Friday didn’t rival Disney’s biggest 2003 efforts - Finding Nemo and Pirates of the Caribbean - but for an unhyped and quiet little reworking of an old kid’s movie, it did quite well.

Did the flick also succeed artistically? Yeah, pretty much. While no one will mistake Friday for brilliant cinema, it updates the old story with a smart, amusing and likable new telling.

15-year-old Anna (Lindsay Lohan) lives with her psychologist mother Dr. Tess Coleman (Jamie Lee Curtis) and irritating younger brother Harry (Ryan Malgarini). Both Anna and Tess bicker over the usual parent/daughter issues and experience one particularly bad day. Among other things, Anna makes a fool of herself in front of Jake (Chad Michael Murray), the boy she likes who doesn’t seem to know she’s alive, while Tess runs into stress with her upcoming wedding to Ryan (Mark Harmon) while she balances her practice.

A bigger complication arises when Anna’s band gets a shot at an important audition. This occurs Friday night when she needs to attend her mom’s wedding rehearsal dinner. After a major blow-up related to various issues, Ryan takes the family out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. They fight there too and both state the other one has it easiest. The mother of the owner (Lucille Soong) sees their bickering and gives them each a special fortune cookie. When they read the same message at the same time, a short earthquake ensues, though only they experience it.

Life goes on as usual until midnight, when a transformation occurs. Anna pops into Tess’s body and vice versa. After the initial shock of this, they still indicate that they can handle the other’s lives, so they try to go about business as usual. Tess goes to school while Anna heads off with Ryan to her office and to deal with the wedding. As expected, various complications ensue as they come to terms with each other’s lives and learn a little in the process.

I don’t think anyone expected more than a cheap and gimmicky rehash of an old flick from the new Friday. However, director Mark Waters and company manage to make an old dog seem pretty fresh and entertaining. A lot of this stems from its tone, which presents some broad comedy but nonetheless creates a fairly realistic world. None of the characters comes across as terrifically true to life, and the various problems get mutated into a somewhat cartoony fashion at times, but they remain acceptably believable. The various tensions among family members receive concise treatment that rings true despite the comedic elements.

Much of the film’s success results from the talents of the actors. I never truly believed Lohan as Curtis or vice versa, as they didn’t quite get down each others’ mannerisms and patterns. In some ways, their performances felt more like generic uptight mom or wild daughter and didn’t seem to result from real attempts to emulate each other.

Nonetheless, they both sparkle in their parts and make the somewhat trite characters more likable and engaging. Curtis does especially well when she needs to play Anna. Many of the movie’s laughs come from her no holds barred portrayal, as she really gets into the swing of things. It’s a loose and lively performance that makes the movie substantially better than it might have been.

I also feel pleased that the movie totally avoided any form of crass or vulgar humor. Such topics easily could receive attention here, but Friday avoids them altogether. Yeah, there’s one gag in which Anna as Tess alludes to the firmness of former’s butt, and another in which she autographs a guy’s posterior, but these moments seem cute and lack the crudeness other films might indulge. The movie takes the high road and appears stronger for it.

As I mentioned earlier, nothing revolutionary occurs in this new Freaky Friday. It’s the same basic plot as the original and its imitators and the same form of “getting to know each other better” tale we’ve seen hundreds of times in the past. Despite those issues, the movie manages to offer a very entertaining and charm piece. In no way, shape or form do I fall into the flick’s target audience, but I still really enjoyed Friday.


The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Freaky Friday appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Some parts of Friday looked great, but the overall impression remained too flat for it to merit a grade above a “B-“.

Many of the concerns resulted from sharpness. Too much of the film came across as somewhat dull and soft. Granted, a lot of it seemed just fine and presented accurate and well defined images, but the fuzzy parts occurred too frequently. I saw no problems with jagged edges or shimmering, but some light to moderate edge enhancement marred to presentation with relative frequency. The image lacked any source flaws, as I noticed no specks, marks, or other concerns of that sort. However, some artifacting appeared during more than a little of the movie.

A film with a pretty bright palette, Friday usually presented distinctive tones. The colors occasionally came across as a bit runny, but they mainly seemed positive. Most of the various vivid hues were tight and bold. Black levels appeared nicely dense and deep, while low-light shots offered good clarity and definition. Ultimately, Friday consistently remained watchable but erratic.

While much of Freaky Friday’s Dolby Digital 5.1 mix sounded great, it lacked the scope to earn a high grade. The soundfield remained quite limited through most of the movie. Elements remained firmly anchored in the front speakers. Music managed to get decent reinforcement from the rear, especially when Anna’s band played. In addition, the two brief earthquake sequences kicked the surrounds to life in a small way.

Otherwise, however, the fronts heavily dominated. They offered good localization and movement, though. The forward speakers presented a fairly natural soundfield, but it still wasn’t terribly involving.

At least audio quality seemed terrific. Dialogue always sounded natural and distinctive, and I noticed no issues connected to edginess or intelligibility. Effects stayed minor for the most part; other than the earthquakes and Jake’s motorcycle, I recall little that made an impression. Nonetheless, the various elements sounded accurate and life-like. Music fared quite well. From the score to the many pop/rock songs, these all seemed vivid and lively, with clear highs and nice bass. Across the board, low-end response was firm and rich. Overall, Friday lost points due to its lack of ambition, but it sounded good enough to earn a “B”.

Despite the film’s success, Friday comes with only a small smattering of extras. Backstage Pass with Lindsay Lohan runs a mere seven minutes and 58 seconds. While it includes some quick interview snippets from producer Andrew Gunn, screenwriter Heather Hach, director Mark Waters, and actors Jamie Lee Curtis and Christina Vidal, mostly it follows Lohan as she goes through her average day. We see her arrive at the set, get her makeup, shoot some scenes, and go to school. We also get a little info about the original Friday and what they hoped to do with the update. Much of it consists of generic praise for all involved, though. This makes the piece drag and it never becomes terribly informative, but the glimpses behind the scenes seem fun.

The usual goofs pop up in Freaky Bloopers. This 127-second clip presents the standard kookiness and flubs. Nothing out of the ordinary appears here.

One deleted scene appears. It only lasts about 14 seconds as Anna clocks her rival. Director Waters explains why it was shot and why he dropped it during the 40-second piece. In addition, we find two alternate endings. In the 88-second compilation, we get one that strongly sets up a potential sequel and another that implies it. Both focus on Harry and his grandpa. Waters explains why the two possible endings got the boot. None of this material seems great, though I kind of preferred the second alternate to the actual ending.

Two music videos appear in the Freaky Jams domain: “What I Like About You” performed by Lillix and “Me vs. the World” done by Halo Friendlies. The former remakes the old Romantics hit and uses the traditional mix of movie clips and lipsynch footage. However, it turns more creative because the female bandmembers constantly attempt to use a “switch” pedal to flop positions with Lohan and nab her cute boyfriend. It’s definitely more fun than the average video. “World” features the same format and another girl band, but it seems less interesting. It attempts a plot in which a mean woman tries to shut down their garage performance, which makes it feel like an old Quiet Riot video.

A few minor Easter eggs pop up on the disc. From the “Freaky Jams” menu, highlight the headshot of Curtis and you’ll see 33 seconds of her as she badly mimes a guitar solo. From the main menu, click on the fortune cookie to get the two females to change their outfits.

The disc includes the usual complement of ads at the start of the disc. When you pop the platter in your player, you’ll find promos for Hidalgo, The Lion King 1 1/2, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, and various new 2-disc special editions for animated hits all included in the same ad. In addition, the Sneak Peeks domain features all of those trailers as well as additional bits for the Lilo & Stitch DVD Adventure Game and the Freaky Friday soundtrack.

We also get the THX Optimizer. This purports to help you set up your home theater to best present the movie on the disc in question. Apparently the Optimizer is unique for each DVD on which it’s included; unlike programs such as Video Essentials, the Optimizer should tweak your set-up differently every time. Frankly, I’ve been very happy with my already-established calibration and I’m afraid to muck with it, so I’ve never tried the Optimizer. If you lack calibration from Video Essentials or a similar program, or if you’re just more adventurous than I, the Optimizer could be a helpful addition.

Disney’s on a roll in 2003: with Pirates of the Caribbean and Freaky Friday, they turned potentially miserable movies into genuinely entertaining experiences. Friday proves likable and winning, as it maintains a charming piece that also adds a surprising number of solid laughs. The DVD seems pretty lackluster, unfortunately. Picture appears decent but erratic, while audio comes across as accurate but without much scope. The disc includes only a few minor extras. Friday is definitely enough fun to merit a screening, but the disc itself comes across as a minor disappointment.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.1551 Stars Number of Votes: 58
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