Freaky Friday (1976 film)

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Freaky Friday
Directed by Gary Nelson
Produced by Ron Miller
Written by Mary Rodgers
Starring Barbara Harris
Jodie Foster
John Astin
Music by Johnny Mandel
Cinematography Charles F. Wheeler
Edited by Cotton Warburton
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • December 17, 1976 (1976-12-17)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5 million[1]
Box office $25,942,000[2]

Freaky Friday is a 1976 American fantasy-comedy film directed by Gary Nelson and starring Barbara Harris as Ellen Andrews, Jodie Foster as her daughter Annabel, and John Astin as her husband, Bill Andrews.

The film is based on the 1972 novel of the same name by Mary Rodgers, in which mother and daughter switch their bodies, and they get a taste of each other's lives. The cause of the switch is left unexplained in this film, but occurs on Friday the 13th, when Ellen and Annabel, in different places, say about each other at the same time, "I wish I could switch places with her for just one day." Rodgers adds a waterskiing subplot to her screenplay.

Freaky Friday was remade twice: as a television film in 1995 (starring Shelley Long and Gaby Hoffman) and a feature film in 2003 (starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan).


Ellen Andrews (Barbara Harris) and her daughter, Annabel Andrews (Jodie Foster) constantly quarrel. Following a disagreement on Friday the 13th, Annabel leaves to join a friend at a local diner. In sync, Annabel and Ellen (who is in the family home's kitchen) both wish aloud, "I wish I could switch places with her for just one day". Their wish comes true when they switch their bodies and subsequently lives.

Ellen and Annabel continue to live their everyday lives as each other. Annabel remains at home, tending to laundry, car repair, grocery deliveries, carpet cleaners, dry cleaners, her housemaid, and the family Basset Hound. As though Annabel did not have her hands full, Bill Andrews (John Astin) coerces her to cook dinner for twenty-five as his catered dinner party plans fell through. Annabel enlists Boris, a neighbor whom she has harbored a crush, to look after her younger brother and make a chocolate mousse but all three manage to mess everything up, then later saving face by making everything into a smorgasbord. Annabel does have a bright point, such as getting to have a personal discussion with and getting through to her brother, Ben when she is picking him up from school about what qualities she envies about him when he wonders, and him being able to first share her loathing over the housemaid even over the same issues referring to her, and he turns out giving her compliments about what he personally thinks of her and giving testimony to how he has ever tried being a slob on her behalf because of how he dislikes the way that she is constantly the one being in trouble with the housemaid, and then confessing why he ever became a neatnick based on being scolded by the housemaid. Plus, between all the talks, they play baseball which adds to the affection. This, but mostly the discussions before and after leads to Annabel having remorse for misjudging Ben about her and getting a different outlook on him.

Ellen attends school as Annabel where she struggles with marching band, destroys her entire typing class's electric typewriters, exposes her photography class's developing film, and leads the school's field hockey team to a loss. However, Ellen does have one bright point, in a US history class where she accurately recounts the Korean War, having lived through the 1950s as a little girl. In an effort to escape school, Ellen (as Annabel) runs to Bill's office. There, she encounters Bill's new attractive, young, and immodestly dressed secretary. Ellen attempts to intimidate the young woman by sharing how frightening "her mother" is. This effort appeared successful as the secretary adopts more modest clothing, glasses, and an unflattering hairstyle. Ellen (as Annabel) asks Bill for access to his credit card in order to make herself over as her braces were scheduled to be removed that afternoon. Bill approves, and chalks up his secretary's awkward appearance to personal problems at home as her son is ill and her husband is unemployed, causing Ellen to scold herself for not trusting her husband.

The day ends in a comical twist when the mother-daughter pair wish a new request: To return to themselves. This does happen, although in a different manner than before: They are physically tranferred, with Annabel suddenly sitting now behind the wheel of a car with Ben and Boris, with none of them knowing how to drive and attracting the attention of several squad cars. Ellen in turn finds herself on waterskis while she (as Annabel) was scheduled to participate in an aquacade. Bill, who has prospective clients at the aquacade, fears unemployment as he sees Ellen flailing helplessly on skis, but her antics amuse the clients so much that Bill wins the account.

With a new understanding of each other's lives, mother and daughter forgive each other. Following the events of Freaky Friday, Annabel begins dating Boris. Bill is playing cards with Ellen, still trying to understand what happened. Ellen and Bill are fine with Boris taking Annabel to a pizzeria for a date, but Annabel lets Ben tag along with them. Ben complains that he never gets to do fun stuff like his dad, who is getting ready for a business trip the following Saturday dirt biking with a Japanese motorcycle firm looking to enter the US market, while Bill says Ben should be more appreciative of a worry-free childhood. Ben remarks he would love to spend one Saturday in his dad's shoes, while Bill says the same about Ben, causing Annabel and Ellen to get nervous and urging Bill and Ben to drop the matter. As they wish to switch their places, Ellen nervously throws her cards into the air.



Neither Barbara Harris nor Jodie Foster did any actual water skiing in the film. In both cases, these scenes were achieved with the use of professional water skiers in long shot on location, and cutaway shots of the actresses in front of a rear projection effect. Foster did, however, play field hockey in the film.


Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster were nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for their roles in this film. Barbara Harris was actually nominated twice for this award; her other nomination being for the Alfred Hitchcock film Family Plot. The film also got a nomination for Best Original Song – Motion Picture for the song "I'd Like to Be You for a Day". The song is written by Joel Hirschhorn and Al Kasha.


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