Saturday 29 September 2007

Freaky Friday (1976) Gary Nelson

Back in 1976 Jodie Foster was 14 and having a stunning year: Echoes of a Summer, Taxi Driver, Bugsy Malone, Freaky Friday and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. She looked 14 but sounded twice that, which made her a perfect candidate for this film, the old chestnut where a child and an adult swap places. Here she's the child and Barbara Harris is the adult and when they both wish the same thing at the exact same moment on a Friday 13th, it happens, and suddenly Annabel is Mrs Ellen Andrews, and vice versa. To be honest, Barbara Harris is a perfect choice for the part too and they both have great fun with their roles.

It's all overdone nonsense of course, as you'd expect from Disney, but it's done with verve and passion and it's impossible not to enjoy it anyway, regardless of the ludicrous situations and outrageous overacting from many of the cast, especially the hockey coaches. It's naturally the worst possible day for the changeover for either of them: Mrs Andrews has every workman in town coming over, and Annabel has term papers due, typing tests to take, marching band practice and an important hockey game to boot in which she's the star. Just as naturally, both of them fail outrageously but still manage to come good by the end of the day. We're not messing with the formula here, that's for sure, just adding horrific CGI and rear projection work.

I've appreciated Jodie Foster's talent for years but haven't really paid that much attention to Barbara Harris. I've seen her in quite a few of her 19 films, from Nashville to Nice Girls Don't Explode, from Grosse Pointe Blank to Family Plot, and always enjoyed her work, but this has to be the best I've seen her. Now I need to look for some of other work. I hadn't even heard of films like Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?, The Manchu Eagle Murder Caper Mystery or Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad, but they're intriguing titles for sure. They certainly sound more attractive than something like Movie Movie, which I hadn't heard of either, even though the ratings would suggest the exact opposite.

There are plenty of other names I know here, even though I don't tend to know most names in seventies Hollywood comedies. Most obviously there's John Astin, TV's Gomez Addams, here playing Annabel's dad, but there's also Boss Hogg himself, Sorrell Booke; Marty McFly's brother in the Back to the Future films, Marc McClure; plus Patsy Kelly, Dick Van Patten and others.

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