Friday, August 18, 2017

Trading Places

Freaky Friday (1976)
Director: Gary Nelson
Cast: Jodie Foster, Barbara Harris, John Astin
Released: December 17, 1976



Freaky Friday (2003)
Director: Mark Waters:
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Jamie Lee Curtis, Mark Harmon, Chad Michael Murray 
Released: August 6, 2003



I'm not sure what is considered to be the better movie between these two Freaky Friday films (and actually there is a third, from doing research I found out there is a Freaky Friday TV movie starring Shelley Long and Gaby Hoffmann that came out in 1995, but I doubt that one is even in the conversation), but I think the remake is far more superior. I had never seen the original until just recently and this was the third time I've seen the remake. I had a lot more fun watching the remake and while the original had it's fun moments, I was mostly bored during it. Also, there were a few moments that made me cringe because it's sooooo outdated and gets a tiny offensive at times, but that's not the (main) reason why I prefer the remake. The remake just makes so much more sense in a plot that is absurd, but at least they try to keep it as realistic as possible. 

As far as body-switching movies go, this is one of the more popular. You probably all know the premise: a mother and her teenage daughter switch bodies for a full day (which, as you may have guessed, is on a Friday!) They are total opposites and don't get along, but after living as the other for a day, they learn to appreciate each other more. A very young Jodie Foster is 13-year-old Annabel and Barbara Harris is her mother, Ellen Andrews, in the original. Lindsay Lohan is 15-year-old Anna and Jamie Lee Curtis is her mother, Tess Coleman in the remake. 

Before the big switch, we see how mother and daughter don't get along. Annabel is a tomboy who bitches about how uptight her mom is (and she's right, her mom IS uptight....Anna really has no reason to complain about her mother!) saying how she's not allowed to do this or that. She whines to her friends that her mom is always pushing her around or telling her what to do. Ellen tells her husband, Bill (John Astin) that Annabel doesn't have a clue about her life. They both think the other has it easier. They take a little more time establishing the relationship between mother and daughter in the remake as it actually starts on Thursday and the original starts that Friday morning. While Ellen is a housewife (of course she is), Tess is a psychologist who has recently written a book about communication although she can't seem to get through to her daughter. She is busy with her upcoming wedding to her fiance, Ryan (Mark Harmon) which Anna isn't happy about since her dad died three years ago. Anna is in a band with her friends and they have the opportunity to play at a Battle of the Bands gig, but it just so happens to be the next day which is night of the rehearsal dinner and her mom says no. 

I'm going to touch on similar plot lines/characters from each movie:

The switch: As I already mentioned, the body swapping happens much sooner in the original. And it's really stupid and doesn't make any sense how it's done. While Annabel is at the ice cream parlor with her friends before school (who goes to an ice cream parlor before school?) bitching about her mom to her friends and while Ellen is at home doing the dishes and bitching about her daughter to her husband, they both simultaneously say, "I wish I could switch places with her...for just one day." We get a terrible special effects graphic (I know, I know, it WAS the '70s) where they switch bodies. Oh, sure, we get the initial surprise that they're in each other bodies, but neither really seemed that concerned about it. Case in point: Ellen in her daughter's body calls home and her husband answers. She keeps calling him "Bill" and Bill, thinking it's his daughter, is angry that Annabel keeps calling him by his first name. I thought for sure she was going to ask to speak to her "mom", but no, all she does is ask if "Mom" is acting funny and Bill confirms this. They won't see each other again until the end of the movie which is really odd. You think they would immediately meet up and see what's going on. Once they realized that they said the same thing at the same time, then all they have to do is say something to un-switch them (which is what eventually happens). 

At least in the remake, they have a reason for why they switch and they actually try to figure out how to get their own bodies back. And it's a lot funnier. They don't switch bodies right away. Thursday night the whole family goes out to eat at a Chinese restaurant and the owner sees them bickering. The daughter tells her mother not to meddle, but the woman each gives Tess and Anna a fortune cookie and we see them reading the fortune at the same time and there's an earthquake that only the two of them can feel. It's not until when they're both in bed and the clock turns to midnight when they turn into each other and wake up to find themselves in each other's bodies. We get some of the same moments in the original like seeing Jamie Lee Curtis and hearing Lindsay Lohan's voiceover thoughts and vice versa and when they're feeling their new body parts and thinking, "That's not mine!" 

Since they're both in the same location when this happens, they are able to try to figure out what happened. Anna suggests that they go see a doctor, but her mom says they can't do that because nobody would believe them. Thank you, movie. This is something the original did not get right at all. Both Ellen and Annabel tell people that they are their mother/daughter. Ellen in her daughter's body tells Ellen's friends that she is Mrs. Andrews and they all just laugh and say, "This is a fun game! Let's pretend to be each other's mothers!" Annabel in her mother's daughter tells the boy she has a crush on she is actually Ellen and of course he doesn't believe her either. Why are they even trying to tell others the truth? There is no way they can prove it! It's so stupid! I'm glad the remake realized how stupid it is and never once do they tell anyone what's actually going on. Now, of course they don't do the best job of trying to get through the day as each other as we have Tess in her daughter's body acting very motherly to Anna's friends and we have Anna in her mother's body talking like a teenager when she tells her mother's fiancee, "Could, you like, chill for one sec?" 

Tess and Anna at least try to figure out what happened and try to switch back. Sure, it doesn't really work when they run into each other at full speed, thinking they can unswap bodies that way, but at least they try something. Can't say the same for the original where they literally don't do anything to try to switch back. They visit the Chinese restaurant where they learn that the only way to reverse the "spell" is to show a selfless act of love for the other. So at least there's a reason why they switched bodies and a way for them to switch back. 

The husband/fiance: As you may have guessed, the daughter being in her mother's body might be a little awkward around her dad/ mother's fiance. The remake handles it much better. When Ryan tries to kiss who he believes is his fiancee, Anna quickly backs away or tells him she's getting sick or makes ups some excuse not to kiss him. Now, the husband never tries to kiss his wife in the '76 movie, but Annabel as her mother calls him "Daddy" a couple times and he asks her why she's calling him that, but you can tell he likes it and it's soooooooo creepy. So creepy! It's supposed to be played for laughs, but no. It's creepy as all hell. Even though Anna doesn't like her stepdad at first, he is a good person and she will come around to accepting him into their family. Bill, on the other hand, well, he's kind of a jerk. He calls his wife (actually his daughter) and asks her to make a dinner for 25 people that might. Anna thinks he's great as a father, but terrible as a husband. When Ellen in her daughter's body goes to visit Bill at his office, she is not happy to see his extremely attractive assistant who he's never mentioned before. 

The younger brother: The teenaged girls have a little brother who they can't stand. Harry is Anna's little brother and he's your typical annoying little brother where he provokes his older sister and you understand why she doesn't get along with him. The poor kid is confused because his "sister" is being super nice to him and his "mother" is being mean to him. Ben is Annabel's little brother and he's a "neat freak". Uh...in what world does a little kid keep his room clean and fold his clothes? I have never met a kid like that in my life. Granted, I don't know many kids, but my God...the remake got the younger brother much more realistically. Annabel can't stand her little brother because she's such a slob and he makes her look bad. Both girls, as their mothers, will learn that their brothers both look up to their sisters, confessing this to their mothers (who, of course, are actually their sisters). 

The crush: Both teenaged girls have a crush on a boy. Anna likes a boy at her school, Jake (Chad Michael Murray). And I get it He's very good-looking and super cool with his own motorcycle which he offers to give Anna a ride on, but she knows her mom will ground her for eternity if she did accept the ride, so she has to refuse. Annabel has a crush on her neighbor, Boris. I don't understand the appeal of him at all. He's more of a nerd, but he's not even a cute nerd. He has allergies and is always wiping his nose and he has this weird squeaky voice and in what world is he suppose to be hot or cute? Is this what 13-year-old girls in the '70s liked? I don't get it. He also seems like a huge ass. He totally disses Annabel to her mother (who is actually Annabel!) and he makes snide comments about the appearance of Annabel's messy room which Annabel (as her mother) tells him it's Ben's room and he proceeds to make fun of the kid for having "girly" items. So yeah, he's a real prince. The males in the original are just jerks. Even little Ben, who, despite being the most unrealistic child in the history of the universe doesn't really bother me UNTIL Annabel as her mother gets called to the school to have a meeting with her principal about herself and calls Boris to watch Ben and the oven where she's cooking a turkey for her dad's co-workers. She asks Boris if he can whip up a chocolate mousse and Ben says, "Isn't that sort of a sissy thing to do?" UH, WHAAAAT? No, you did NOT go there, movie! Wow. I was SHOCKED when I heard that. Holy crap. First of all, is it "sissy" because it's a dessert the guy has to make or just cooking in general is "sissy"? Also, little boy, isn't folding your clothes a "sissy" thing to do? F*** you, movie!


Anyway! Both Jake and Boris end up falling for the mothers, so of course that means they actually like the daughters. Jake and Anna as her mother bond over shared musical interests and Boris and Annabel as her mother bond over...I'm not really sure, actually. I guess Boris just think she's a hot housewife and that's why he wants to spend more time with her? In the end, when the teenaged girls are back in their own bodies, they begin to date their crushes. Still don't see the appeal of Boris. The actor who played him has a cameo in the remake and his name was also Boris.

The daughter as her mother: Both movies have amusing scenes with the daughters as their mothers (and vice versa, of course). Annabel quickly learns what a crappy life her mother leads just being a domesticated housewife. While doing laundry (and seriously, what 13-year-old doesn't know how to do laundry? You're f***ing 13, for God's sake!) Annabel stuffs EVERYTHING into the washing machine. This not only includes clothes, but very thick shaggy rugs and shoes. She pours a bunch of detergent (which is the powder kind and not liquid) into the machine and of course it goes haywire and starts spewing bubbles and clanking everywhere. While this is going on, all of her mother's scheduled appointments start showing up: the carpet cleaners, the window drapers, the neighbor who needs something, and the maid. I feel like I'm forgetting somebody. During this whole fiasco, the pet basset hound keeps getting passed around from person to person. I realize this is played for laughs (though it's not funny!), but why are they passing around the dog? Why does the dog need to be held? He's perfectly capable of walking around...just put him on the ground...it's so stupid! If somebody passed the dog to me (and he's a full grown basset hound, so he looks pretty heavy), I would just put it down. There's no reason for it to be held! UGH! 

Annabel ends up firing the maid which is something similar that happens in the remake when Anna fires her mother's caterer for the wedding. Since Annabel can't drive, she and Ben walk to the grocery store to get groceries for her dad's big dinner party. This is when she bonds with her brother and they play a game of baseball in the park with other kids. 

The first thing Anna does as her mother is go on a shopping spree and gives her conservative mother a more outrageous look. She cuts her hair and pierces the upper part of her ear...something that Anna always wanted (although when they switch bodies back, she's not going to have that anymore!) Both Anna and Tess realize they're going to have to spend the day as each other as Tess has patients at her practice and Anna has an important test at school. Tess tells Anna to not say anything to her patients except for, "How does that make you feel?" Anna, in her mother's body, follows this until she meets with a woman who confesses she went through her daughter's journal and Anna explodes on her.

Ryan surprises "Tess" with a television interview about her new book, which Anna has never read and has no idea what it's about. She wings the interview and ends up being a big hit. Jake sees this on TV and tells "Anna" how cool her mom is and this is the start of his infatuation with her. 

The mother as her daughter: Both mothers have to navigate through a day as their daughters. I didn't really think Annabel had it bad at school. You definitely feel more sympathetic towards the mother having to deal with all those chores and a male chauvinist husband. The reason why "Annabel" has a bad day at school is because her mother causes it. When they are taking a typing test (with typewriters!), she is confused why she can't type anything and it's because it's an electric typewriter and has to plug in it and turn it on. It won't work so the teacher tells her to find another one so she plugs in one that says "OUT OF ORDER" (can she not read?) and it causes a shortage of all the typewriters. Then we have a scene of her in history class where she's being a know it all in history class and getting all the answers right and is made fun of by her classmates. She's late to her photography class and opens the door to the dark room and turns on the lights. Obviously, if this were the real Annabel, she wouldn't make those mistakes. After school, there's a big field hockey game which Annabel is very good at, but her mother, not so much. She makes a goal for the other team. Does she not know that the goalie wearing the same color as her is ON HER SIDE? Is she colorblind? It's one thing not to be athletic, but my God, does she not know the basic structure of sports? While I was watching this, I was thinking, what is so horrible about Annabel's life? She has friends, she's good at sports, and, in that meeting that "Ellen" attends, she's very smart, but just needs to apply herself more. The reason "Annabel" has a horrible day is because it's her mother and she doesn't know what she's doing. It's not like Annabel has to do with bullies or bad grades or peer pressure.

Even though Anna is your typical bratty teenager, the movie does a good job of showing that she does have problems and this is evident to her mother when she goes to school as her daughter. For one thing, Anna is smart, but she has a teacher who keeps giving her bad grades and sending her to detention. We learn that this teacher knew Anna's mom back in high school and asked her to a dance, but she had a boyfriend and said no. Tess, as Anna confronts the teacher about this. There's also a girl who's really mean to Anna and we find out that they used to be friends (a long time ago), but had a falling out. Tess tries to make amends with her, but the friend tricks her and framers her for cheating on their big test. Tess gets back at her by finding the girl's test and sabotaging it. I thought that was a little out of character for her. I understand she's getting back at the girl for being mean to her daughter, but that was a little too much for her. And, of course, Anna is upset that her mother is getting remarried so soon.

I liked the moment when Tess and Anna are driving to the Chinese restaurant with Anna as her mother driving since she has the license and Tess as Anna eating fries because, now that she's in her daughter's fifteen year old body, she doesn't have to worry about gaining weight.  I liked how in that scene they were both taking advantage of their new ages. The remake doesn't do that.  

During the Battle of the Bands, obviously Tess has no idea what to do, so Anna has to hide behind the stage and play the real notes while Tess pretends to play. 

The un-switch: In the remake, Tess and Anna are returned to their own bodies after a heartfelt speech at the rehearsal dinner. There is another earthquake (which everyone seems to feel that time, although only Anna and Tess felt it the first time, but whatever) and they are back in their own bodies. They now have a new appreciation for the other and become closer.

In the original, there's some stupid water skiing competition which Annabel is involved. Ellen, as Annabel, tells her coach she can't do it, but he tricks her and she ends up on the skis. Annabel as her mother is driving in a car with Boris and Ben. They need to get the food to...somewhere because Bill has called his "wife" and demands to know where the food is. Because of her terrible driving (it IS a thirteen-year-old driving after all), she is pursued by the police. At the same time, both exclaim, "I wish I had my own body back!" But here's the kicker...instead of just switching minds like they do the first time it happens, this time they also physical switch bodies...wait, what?? This absolutely made no sense! So now Ellen, who was originally in her daughter's body on water skis is now in her own body but still on water skis ("Right body, wrong place!) and Annabel, who was originally in her mother's body driving the car is now in her own body driving the car. In the words of Regina George, "God movie, you are so stupid!" Oh, and Boris and Ben who are in the car with Mrs. Andrews? They're all like, "Where did you come from, Annabel?" and "Where did Mom go?" They're shocked for a second, but then it's like, whatever. No big deal a completely person is driving the car! 

While Ellen is still continuing her water skiing (and why doesn't she just let go? Like, duh!!!!), Annabel is trying to get to the lake to help her mom but is still being chased by the police. We get a chase which is supposed to be played for laughs, but uh, in real life would have killed dozens of people. They're in a Volkswagen and go across this very narrow bridge. People are on this bridge and in order to not get run over, they have to hang from the bridge from a very high overpass with traffic underneath. If they fall, they're dead. Then, once the people get back on the bridge, here come the police cars and this time the civilians have to duck under the cars as they are too wide too fit on the bridge and use the railing of the bridge to drive across. Then, we have Annabel driving erratically around a concrete wall and one of the police cars hits the wall head on, and instead of the driver and passenger being killed (from, you know, hitting a CONCRETE WALL HEAD ON!), the car just splits in half so one side of the car is on one side of the wall and the other half is on the other side. Oh, and then we end this ridiculous car chase with Annabel, her brother, and Ben ending up in the lake. Luckily, they don't drown because the top of the car is already down. Ugh, just so ridiculous. Annabel and her mother are reunited and they learn their lesson.

Both movies end in similar fashions with the younger brother and the dad (or, in the remake's case, the grandfather) looking like they're about to switch bodies, but it's just a close call!

Look, I'm not saying the remake is a perfect movie. It has its flaws too. But compared to the original, it is a masterpiece. The relationship between mother and daughter was fleshed out more, things made more sense, and it was also funnier and more enjoyable. Skip the original and watch the remake. 

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