Today! Because that’s not my foot, that’s mom’s foot! And those are mom’s legs –
Freaky Friday (1976)
Directed by Gary Nelson
Starring Barbara Harris, Jodie Foster, John Astin, Dick Van Patten (x2), Sorrell Booke, Ruth Buzzi, Kaye Ballard, Patsy Kelly, Alan Oppenheimer, Marc McClure, Sparky Marcus, Al Molinaro, Charlene Tilton, Fritz Feld
This one is a bit of an odd story. I didn’t grow up with Freaky Friday, even though it is decidedly a children’s movie, straight from the House of Mouse. I knew kid Jodie Foster from Taxi Driver almost exclusively – to me she made that and then was immediately an adult winning Oscars for The Accused and Silence of the Lambs. And I may have even seen Nashville already, so this wouldn’t even have been my introduction to Barbara Harris. But, one night in college, half drunk I suspect, I was hanging out in my great friend Dave’s basement, and we happened upon Freaky Friday on the Disney Channel. I have no idea why we sat and watched the whole thing, but there we were, yukking it up over the old body switching premise. And it was followed by the TV remake from the ’90s with Gaby Hoffman and Shelley Long, so we watched that, too. And this random incident always stuck with me, to the point that if it’s on, I’ll flip on Freaky Friday for a few minutes, and probably end up watching the whole thing yet again.
And it totally holds up, for the kid’s movie goofiness that it is. I’ve never seen the second remake with Lindsey Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis – I imagine it’s fine? – but Harris and Foster are perfectly cast, and carry the film through its mostly contrived, G-rated bits. It’s debatable who’s actually better – clearly Harris playing the teen trapped in the adult’s body has the better, more fun material, with all the exploding kitchen/water skiing business, and her old Second City skills come to the fore throughout, but Foster gets the heavier acting duty, and for a fifteen year old, too. It’s a pair of excellent performances in a genre you wouldn’t necessarily expect, especially in the 1970s.
Totally warranted were the film’s pair of Golden Globes nominations for Foster and Harris for Best Actress – Comedy or Musical, and maybe less so for the also nominated, okay opening titles song “I’d Like To Be You For a Day,” but the film was completely overlooked in regards to Best Little Brother Burn, for Annabel’s repeated nickname for Sparky Marcus’ Ben as “Ape Face,” something that just cracks me up. It’s not even clever or anything, I just like that she’s so committed to using it. Also, Sparky Marcus is the greatest kid actor name in the history of Hollywood. Just saying.
Mel Brooks’ staple and Eight is Enough star Dick Van Patten joins the Two-Timers club, following #395’s Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Hey Abbot!