We'll start with a tired cliché (a specialty of the house): FF's a movie that puts the fun back in dysfunctional. But this is Disney, so it's very 'appropriate' PG-rated fun. And we all know how much fun that is. It's sort of like listening to Eminem on Doordarshan: a series of bleeps and curses (thankfully, our censor-board is quite out of it when it comes to the latest in international profanity).
So you have your endearingly twisted family unit with cute multi-tasking supermom (Jamie Lee Curtis), cute rock-chick high-schooler (Lindsay Lohan) and cute rascally lil' brother (Some Little Boy). Anna and Tess are going through that mandatory phase of parent-child bonding, where they want to rip each other's throats out.
Like adolescence isn't party enough, there are a couple of other ingredients to mess things up like Tess' second wedding and Anna's attempt at living the life of a wholesome American teenager, which includes singing in a band, dating a biker, and getting bits of her body pierced. Trouble happens when these two worlds collide, and the communication gap yawns wider. Very original, what?
But it's not so bad, really. This plot has been 'interpreted' three times in the past, on big screen and tv, so it must have some appeal. What works for the film is a couple of funny lines, a couple of aww-inspiring moments and Curtis playing an adorable fifty-year-old teenager.
Yup, that's the deal. To have mother and daughter appreciate each other better, a freak supernatural accident changes their personalities around, so now Anna has the body of a "crypt-keeper", and Tess has to get through a day in high school and an audition at the Wango Bongo House Of Rock (words to that effect).
Lots of gags ensue, all predictable but still funny if you're willing to meet them halfway. While Tess (now in Anna's body) is concentrating on avoiding all physical contact with the opposite sex and getting good grades (freaking her friends out in the process), Anna (now in Tess' body and pudgy knees) is having an easier time of it. Except when she has to shrink her mother's patients, appear on a talk show, or kiss the fiancé (eww).
For the first time in their self-satisfied lives, the two of them see that all is not as it appears to be with the other. Anna sees that her mom is not perfect, and Tess learns to ease up on the psychobabble. One of the film's most moving messages remains: don't bug your child with 'quality-time', just leave him alone. Can't say that often enough.
Almost two hours later you will still have no idea why this story had to be told a sum total of four times on screen. But it is funny in bits, so if you're borderline desperate for laughs this weekend, Freaky Friday will do the trick. Or die trying.