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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Freaky Friday is a family-friendly musical-style reimagining of the story about a mother and daughter who switch bodies after some accidental magic. Song-and-dance numbers are delightful additions to the plot (showcasing the cast's talents), and the story carefully explores serious emotions like grief after a loved one's death. Both teenage Ellie (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) and her mom (Heidi Blickenstaff) have some awkward moments related to each other's romantic lives, but they're handled more with humor than suggestion. A teen manipulates peers and adults to maintain her social dominance, but ultimately this delightful, energetic movie has exceptional messages about communication, honesty, and respect for others.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
FREAKY FRIDAY is a Disney musical that retells the story of a rebellious teen and her mom who unwittingly trade bodies and lives. Heidi Blickenstaff stars as Katherine Blake, a single mom busy preparing to marry her fiancé, Mike (Alex Desert), and (fingers crossed!) get the break her catering business needs by planning the entire event herself. She knows things would go a lot more smoothly if her daughter, Ellie (Cozi Zuehlsdorff), wasn't so contrary all the time, but Ellie's sure the fault lies with her mom, who just doesn't understand what it's like to be her. When mom and daughter find themselves in the wrong bodies, they must set aside their preconceptions and actually walk a mile in each other's shoes as they search for a way to reverse the magic.
Is it any good?
This remake's shtick is the breakout musical numbers that give the familiar story a dynamic quality that you didn't even realize you wanted. All of the requisite hilarity of identity-swapping tales is here: Teen is shocked at her mom body's "loose skin" and laments adulting being "super unfun," Mom fails miserably at high school lingo and body language and can't resist giving sage advice to her daughter's social nemesis, and so on. Awkwardness abounds as Ellie and Katherine, played endearingly by the capable actresses, try desperately to maintain the status quo in each other's lives.
Besides the obvious message about not judging a book (or your mother) by its cover, Freaky Friday emphasizes self-expression and honest communication. It wouldn't have been as much fun for the audience, but Katherine and Ellie could have arrived at the same understanding about each other if they'd just called a truce and talked openly about their feelings at the start. In the end, it's that simple act that sets things right, and that's what families can take away from this movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Ellie and Katherine's relationship changes in Freaky Friday as a result of their experience in each other's bodies. How instructive would that be? Can you ever really understand someone else's situation? How does showing respect compensate for our inability to do so?
What character strengths like compassion do you see in Katherine and in Ellie? How does their relationship change after they learn to better understand each other? What stood in the way of that relationship before they switched identities?
What does the music add to this story? Have you seen the other Freaky Friday movies? In what ways does this one improve on the others? Are there ways in which it's lacking?
- In theaters: August 10, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: September 25, 2018
- Cast: Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Heidi Blickenstaff, Alex Desert
- Director: Steve Carr
- Studio: Disney Channel Original Movies
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Character strengths: Communication
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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