Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Fun musical numbers
Cons: Too rushed overall
The Bottom Line:
Switch up comedy
Now with music! But it's rushed
Result is frenzied
Singing and Dancing, but a Rather Bland Movie
I've seen all three versions that Disney had made of Freaky Friday before 2018, but I must admit that the only one I truly enjoyed was the 2003 remake starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis. Still, when I'd heard they had created a version of the story as a stage musical, I was definitely intrigued. So, when it showed up as a Disney Channel Original movie, I had to watch it.
We join the Blake family on a very hectic day. Mom, Katherine, (Heidi Blinkenstaff) is about to get remarried to Mike (Alex Desert). Meanwhile daughter Ellie (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) wants to join her friends in an all-night scavenger hunt taking place in the city that night. When Katherine puts her foot down, Ellie rebels. But the next thing they know, the two of them have switched bodies.
This couldn't have come at a worse time. Not only is the wedding tomorrow, but Katherine is catering the entire thing herself and a prominent magazine is going to feature it as a cover article. Katherine really needs this to go well, or the entire company might go bankrupt, with disastrous consequences for the family. Meanwhile, Ellie is one unexcused absence away from being expelled from school. With the two of them having to live each other’s lives until they figure out how to switch back, how will they do?
If you've seen any version of the story before, you know the broad beats of the story. Even if you haven't, I'm sure what happens over the course of this movie will come as no surprise to you. That's never a deal breaker for me if I am having fun, however.
In this case, the movie didn't quite work for me, and it took me a while to figure out why. The problem is that the movie is too short. Yes, it is about an hour and a half, but many stage musicals are longer. Yes, a good musical has songs that advance the plot, and we get that here, but I can't help feeling that they cut out parts of the story in order to fit everything into the time allowed instead of taking the time they need to tell the story. As a result, everything feels rushed. Yes, we get the emotional beats we need, but we don't get the time to truly feel everything. Instead, it feels frantic.
Need more proof? They cut out at least half the songs from the stage musical version. Yes, I know tinkering happens to fit different formats, but that's quite a lot.
Which is a shame because I suspect I would like the full musical if I ever got the chance to see it. The songs we got here are plenty of fun as was the dancing. The acting was fine, as well.
I'm still curious to see the full musical sometime. This version of Freaky Friday will entertain kids, but it would be much better if they hadn't tried to condense it.