Created by the Disney machine, this fantasy comedy was a fave of kids of December 1976: Freaky Friday.
Written by Mary Rodgers and directed by Gary Nelson, Freaky Friday starred Barbara Harris as Ellen Andrews, Jodie Foster as her daughter Annabel and John Astin as husband/Dad Bill Andrews.
Ellen and Annabel are a Mother-Daughter combo that are like oil and water. They disagree, they argue and refuse to acknowledge each other’s opinion.
Fed up with each other, at the same time, they both decree “I wish I could switch places with her for just one day.”
And since its Friday the 13th, their wish is granted. Now in her Mother’s shoes, young Annabel is balancing the daily work load as Mum and Wife, cleaning, organizing and dealing with an unexpected dinner party for 25. She also has a heart to heart with Ben, her brother, and realizes she has been insensitive to him.
Ellen meanwhile is now spending the day at highschool, amazed at her daughter’s skills to handle typing class, develop photographs, play field hockey and play in the marching band.
Stressed by her constant failures she heads to her husband’s office to find his young pretty assistant. Upset by her presence she convinces the young woman to dress more modestly and act differently, but then finds out how hard her life is, and how kind her husband is.
The duo wish to switch back and are switched, but still have each other’s physical skills causing more hilarious encounters, adventures and understanding.
Harris and Foster were consummate slapstick comedy actors, convincing viewers of their inner characters switch while trying to navigate each other’s lives, causing endless laughs and plenty of memorable moments.
Released December 17, 1976, the 90 minute film was made for a modest US$5 million and was a box office success with kids and adults, making US$25 million at the box office.
Harris and Foster were both nominated for Golden Globes for their performances and the film became a success in the Disney canon, remade twice as a tv movie and a feature film in consequent decades.