When news hit earlier this year that Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan would be reprising their roles as Tess and Anna Coleman for a Freaky Friday sequel, I was among the many thrilled fans. I saw the original movie in the theaters in 2003 and got the DVD for Christmas that year. I swooned over Chad Michael Murray and felt Pink Slip’s song “Take Me Away” deep in my bones.
But like many other upcoming films and shows, the SAG-AFTRA strike and negotiations likely put a delay on production for a Freaky Friday sequel. However, with Hollywood back in business as of Friday, Jamie Lee Curtis shared an Instagram post with Lindsay Lohan that seemed to tease Freaky Friday 2—on the same weekend I rewatched the original movie for the first time as a mom with my 11-year-old daughter. Here are my thoughts after rewatching Freaky Friday as an adult with my tween.
Rewatching Freaky Friday as a Mom
My First Thought: OMG I’m Tess Now
As so often happens when I rewatch favorite movies from the ‘80s and ‘90s, I now relate to the parents more than the kids. I’m George Banks in Father of the Bride. I’m Miranda Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire. While I like to think I am not as tightly wound as Tess in Freaky Friday (nor have I ever denied myself french fries), there were some moments in the movie when I really related.
From going through the day’s to-do list before opening your eyes in the morning to managing sibling rivalry to trying to remain calm when your kids are literally screaming in your face, it all felt familiar. Not to mention watching Tess trying to manage work, parenting, and trying to have a semblance of her own life. When my daughter saw Tess juggling her Blackberry, pager, phone, and electronic organizer, her reaction was, “so parents were still obsessed with screens back then?” No, darling, moms were overwhelmed trying to juggle everything back then, too.
I also gulped when I heard Tess say something I tell my 11-year-old almost daily: “I don’t understand why you never wear your hair pulled back, now I can see your beautiful face.” You bet my tween called me out on that, too.
However, the moment the two switch bodies is why this movie is a gem to rewatch. Jamie Lee Curtis as a 15-year-old and Lindsay Lohan as a straight-laced mom are both perfection. I still laughed at all the jokes and cannot wait to see them back together in the sequel.
There Were a Few Things That Haven’t Aged Well
At the time, too distracted by Chad Michael Murray, I didn’t realize how cringey his character Jake’s infatuation with Anna’s mom was. Certainly us moms deserve to be looked at like both Jake and Ryan, her fiancé, look at Tess, but knowing the age difference made both love interests, to quote my 11 year old again, “super awkward.” There were so many parts of the brewing romance between Jake and Tess (as Anna) and Ryan that my daughter literally couldn’t watch.
Then there’s Tess’s job as a psychiatrist. While it was certainly a joy to see Stanford Blatch, I mean Willie Garson, on screen again as Tess’s patient Evan (totally forgot he was in this movie!) the way mental health patients were portrayed felt a bit outdated. The mental health care stigma has improved so much in 20 years and I want my daughter to know that seeing a therapist doesn’t mean you’re like the caricatures portrayed in this film.
And speaking of caricatures, the portrayal of Asian stereotypes was also a little cringey. The overall premise of Freaky Friday was that it was caused by, to quote the movie, ”some strange Asian voodoo.” Yikes. I look forward to seeing how screenplay writer Elyse Hollander will handle the swap better in the Freaky Friday sequel.
It Still Has a Solid Message
But back to the good stuff. At its core, this is a movie about love and empathy.
The conversations after the movie were perhaps my favorite outcome of watching Freaky Friday with my tween daughter. The idea of putting herself in my shoes and vice versa sparked some fun dialogue. For example, we agreed I could never take her math tests—we have to watch video tutorials together for me to even help her with her homework. And she strategized how she might navigate being me for a day—a shopping spree was in her imagination, just like Anna’s.
Putting yourself in another’s shoes is something all parents tend to emphasize when trying to raise good humans. Sure it doesn’t always get through, but Freaky Friday forced both my daughter and I to imagine another perspective, and I loved the movie even more for that.
It Opened the Door to Talking About Healthy Relationships
With a tween already talking about crushes and the first “relationships” happening at school, the movie was a good conversation starter for this next phase of her life. For example, I don’t remember being concerned at all that Jake started acting like a straight-up stalker. My daughter noticed, though. “Why is he always following them?” she asked. ”Why won’t he just leave her alone?”
And when Anna and Jake ended up together, part of me wanted to tell her, “This is not real life. Most of your crushes will be unrequited.” But I chose to relish the happy ending. She’ll figure that lesson out in her own time.
The Moment Before They Switch Back Still Made Me Cry
One of the most touching scenes in the movie is Anna’s speech (as Tess) at the rehearsal dinner. It’s a moment of true understanding that still brings on the waterworks.
At that moment, I also looked across the living room at my daughter laying on the couch—who now takes up almost five feet of space and who called me “weird” for crying—and I know we’re nearing a new chapter. There will be screaming (there already is), but I hope there’s also laughter and more shared moments like our Freaky Friday movie night. And I hope she’ll watch the Freaky Friday sequel with me after it comes out, when maybe I’ll get to relate to Lindsay Lohan’s character once again.