Freaky Friday (1976)

FREAKY FRIDAY (1976)
Article 4435 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-30-2014
Directed by Gary Nelson
Featuring Barbara Harris, Jodie Foster, John Astin
Country: USA
What it is: Shopping cart movie

A teenage girl and her mother, each envying the other’s lifestyle, simultaneously wish to be in the other’s place for a day. The wish is granted, but they find that neither one’s life is a bed of roses…

I have to admit that I was somewhat blindsided by this movie. I’d heard about it for years, of course, but there was something about its reputation that made me expect a …. well, not a SERIOUS movie, per se, but something significantly less slapsticky. I think it was the presence of Jodie Foster, who always struck me as one of the most serious and mature child actors of all time, and I could never quite conceive of her appearing in an honest-to-goodness Disney shopping cart movie. Yet that is exactly what this is, and it is perhaps best judged on that level. As such, it is perhaps one of Disney’s best movies of that sort from the era, but you do have to keep in mind that most of their shopping-cart movies of the era were very weak, and it can’t really hold a candle to some of their better ones from earlier eras. I do think Jodie Foster is an excellent choice for playing an older woman in the body of a young girl; she always came across as fairly mature. I do have problems with the incredibly contrived script, though; once the body shift occurs, both the mother and the daughter seem to be more stupid than they would be in their own bodies, making mistakes that have less to do with being in the wrong body and more to do with slapstick convenience. I will admit that Barbara Harris does play a decent job of playing a teenage girl in a grown woman’s body; my problem is that the teenage girl she’s playing doesn’t seem to be the same teenage girl that Jodie Foster is playing. But then, that’s taking the movie more seriously than it’s really trying to be. On a side note, I’ve never seen John Astin without his moustache before.

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