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Gary Nelson
Jodie Foster, Barbara Harris, John Astin
Writing Credits:
Mary Rodgers

A mother and daughter find their personalities switched and have to live each other's lives on one strange Friday.

Rated G

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1/16X9
English Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 6/1/2004

• “A Look Back with Jodie Foster” Featurette
• Memory Game
• Sneak Peeks


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Freaky Friday (1977)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 19, 2014)

When Jodie Foster won her first Oscar for 1988’s The Accused, I joked that she got it as a “make good” because the Academy snubbed her for 1977’s Freaky Friday. I don’t think I’d seen the latter since my mid-70s youth, so I figured this DVD was a good time to revisit it.

13-year-old Annabel Andrews (Foster) lives with her mother Ellen (Barbara Harris) and irritating younger brother Ben (Sparky Marcus). Both Anna and Ellen bicker over the usual parent/daughter issues and they think that the other one has it easy.

One afternoon, both muse about the superiority of the others’ lives and at the same time, they utter “I wish I could switch places with her for just one day”. Magically, this occurs, as they suddenly swap bodies.

The film follows their dual paths as we watch them deal with the challenges that accompany this perplexing change. After the initial shock, they still indicate that they can handle matters, so they try to go about business as usual. Various complications ensue as they come to terms with different challenges and learn a little in the process.

“Body swap” movies predate Freaky Friday, but I think the modern-day examples of this genre owe their existence to it. The film did well at the box office and showed its influence when we got an explosion of these flicks in the 1980s.

I’d love to say that Friday acts as one of the genre’s best, but unfortunately, it doesn’t hold up well over the years. Not only do spiritual siblings like 1988’s Big better it, but also Friday’s 2003 remake offers a superior version.

A substantially superior version, in fact. Since I’ve not seen the 2003 take in about a decade, I can’t directly compare the two; to be honest, I barely remember the Jamie Lee Curtis/Lindsay Lohan edition. However, I recall enough to know that I enjoyed it and thought it provided a good take on the topic.

The 2003 Friday was pretty bright and funny, and it attempted to create its own internal logic. None of those positives accompany the wholly, consistently, relentlessly mediocre 1977 version.

Truthfully, the story exists as nothing more than a long collection of comedic beats. It seems to think it’ll succeed based solely on its wacky premise, so it does little to deliver much more beyond its general concept. The movie hopes we’ll be so delighted by its nutty notions that we won’t notice how little else it has going for itself.

Perhaps we might not care if we got better lead performances. While I think Harris and Foster are decent in their roles, they can’t elevate their underwritten parts. Of the two, Foster does the best, as she manages to play an adult in a reasonable manner. She relies on a few too many stodgy mannerisms, but she does fine.

On the other hand, Harris tends to overdo the teenage girl. Rather than play a natural kid, Harris turns her into a moronic dope. This seems too over the top to create real comedy.

I do think the movie would work better if it attempted more of a story. Unlike the remake, the 1977 Friday never attempts to tell us how the body swap happens. The characters accept it virtually immediately and never question it, which seems weird. They just act like it’s no big deal, and I guess we’re supposed to follow suit, but it’d be nice to have some clue about the cause of the switch. Didn’t the filmmakers think anyone might wonder about this?

I suspect they didn’t really care. As a movie for youngsters, Freaky Friday works fine; I was nine when it hit screens and enjoyed it. Unfortunately, unlike the better “kiddie flicks”, Friday won’t do much for anyone other than the little ones.

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

Freaky Friday appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This was a mostly good presentation given the movie’s age.

Sharpness generally appeared positive. Occasionally, wider shots came across as moderately soft and fuzzy, but those problems didn’t occur with any great frequency. Otherwise, the movie remained reasonably crisp and distinct.

Jagged edges and moiré effects offered no issues, while I also detected no edge enhancement. Print flaws presented some light problems, but they appeared fairly mild considering the age of the film; I noticed the occasional speck but nothing more.

Colors appeared fine much of the time, but I found them to often appear somewhat bland. Generally they remained acceptably accurate, but I felt they needed a little more life. Black levels appeared pretty deep and rich, and shadow detail usually seemed appropriately dense. A few low-light sequences came across as somewhat murky, but the movie generally provided the right mix. Ultimately, Freaky Friday was a mostly appealing image.

An adaptation of the original monaural audio – which didn’t appear here - the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Freaky Friday didn’t stray far from its origins. Here we found what I call broad mono, so that meant much of the audio remained anchored within the center channel.

Actually, music showed occasional spread across the front speakers, but I detected virtually no instances of any effects or speech that came anywhere other than the middle. In addition, the surrounds provided only the most general of reinforcement. A little light music popped up from the rears, but otherwise they remained passive partners.

Audio quality showed its age but appeared acceptable. Speech seemed somewhat thin and flat at times, but most of the lines came across as reasonably clear and distinct, and I noticed no concerns related to intelligibility or edginess.

Effects played a fairly minor role in the film. Nonetheless, they appeared reasonably clean and accurate, and they displayed no signs of distortion. Music also didn’t have much to do but seemed adequate. Nothing memorable came from this mix, but it worked fine given the movie’s ambitions.

Only a few extras appear here. We hear from the movie’s most famous participant via A Look Back with Jodie Foster. In this 19-minute, 44-second piece, the actors discusses the movie’s story and themes, working at Disney, what she learned during Friday and other experiences on the set, and additional aspects of her career. It’s great to hear Foster look back on her early days as an actor and this becomes a likable chat.

A Freaky Friday Memory Game offers a twist on “Concentration”. It forces you to remember and match pictures from the movie. This becomes a dull contest.

The disc opens with ads for Aladdin, Mulan, and various Disney live-action “classics”. These also appear under Sneak Peeks. No trailer for Friday pops up here.

As a kid, I liked Freaky Friday, and as an adult, I hoped it’d offer something more than basic nostalgia. Unfortunately, it doesn’t bring much entertainment value and provides a sloppy, silly collection of comedic beats. The DVD gives us decent picture and audio along with an interesting interview from Jodie Foster. If you want to see a good version of the story, stick with the 2003 remake, as the 1977 Friday lacks much merit.

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