The theory in films, as in television, is everyone is gone for the summer. So do not release any heavyweight films until fall. This left summer wide open for Disney. They used to release a new film every other week during the summer.
Then came Jaws, the first major summer hit. Studios realized that summer was time to make money. Therefore, Disney lost their stranglehold using cheap frothy films. Freaky Friday was one of Disney's attempts to recapture this market and this film performed.
Disney kept their family friendly format but upped the ante with better actors and better scripts. Instead of going for big stars, Disney looked for proven actors on their way up. They found Barbara Harris. Jodie Foster had already done Menace on the Mountain, Napoleon & Samantha, One Little Indian and Candleshoe for Disney. She considered Disney as a family. (Remember that this was the old Disney).
Annabel Andrews is your typical fifteen year old. She has a mom (Barbara Harris), dad (John Astin) and pesky younger brother (Sparky Marcus). She admits that at her age she may still love her mother but she can't stand being with her. Her mother has similar feelings.
It's Friday the 13th (before Jason made it famous). It's an important day for both of them. Annabel has a field hockey championship and is to perform at the Aquacade. And mom has the rug cleaner and caterers for a party. So this is a perfect day for them to switch bodies.
Now this may sound as silly as some of the films that ripped off this idea. But this film is no way silly. It really deals with the generation gap when it is at its peak.
This is a tour de farce performance by Barbara Harris. For two thirds of the film, Harris plays a grown woman possessed by a 15 year old. She does this convincingly. (She received a Golden Globe nomination).
Jodie Foster has no simple role either playing a 15 year old being inhabited by a 40 year old. But it is a bit simpler.
This is a must see film for all teenagers and their parents. This is superior to the two remakes.
A Look Back with Jodie Foster - Jodie reminisces about her time at Disney and the movie Freaky Friday. You can tell she has a fondness for tenure at the old Disney Studio.
Freaky Friday Interactive Memory Game - This would not entertain even a 2 year old. There are 8 cards and you must match the pairs.