At the Movies: ‘Freaky’ switch
Movies with a plot line about body-switching are a long-standing, if not time-honored, Hollywood tradition.
In contemporary cinema, the most recognizable include “Freaky Friday” and “Big.”
“Freaky,” the latest entry into the genre, is a mash-up of a body-switching movie and a horror film parody.
“Freaky” is a lot of fun, admittedly a lot of dumb fun.
As with most body-switching movies there’s a morass, er, a moral, to the story.
Body-switching movies often involve same-gender switches of a younger male and older male and a younger female and an older female, or vice versa.
“Here Comes Mr. Jordan” (1941) - Robert Montgomery stars. A male boxer becomes a millionaire playboy.
“Heaven Can Wait” (1978) - Warren Beatty stars in the remake of “Here Comes Mr. Jordan.”
“Big” (1988) - Tom Hanks stars. A male teen wakes up as a male adult.
“Freaky Friday” (1976) - A mother (Barbara Harris) and her daughter (Jodie Foster) switch bodies.
“Freaky Friday” (2003) - The remake stars Jamie Lee Curtis as the mother Lindsay Lohan as the daughter.
“13 Going on 30” (2004) - Jennifer Garner stars. A girl, 13, wakes up as a 30-year-old woman.
“17 Again” (2009) - Zac Efron and Mathew Perry star. An executive becomes a janitor.
“The Change-Up” (2013) - Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds switch bodies as a husband and a single man.
There are also body-switching movies that involve the switching of genders.
“All of Me” (1984) - A dying woman (Lily Tomlin) is transformed into her attorney (Steve Martin).
“Switch” (1991) - A sexist man is reincarnated as a woman in the Blake Edwards-directed film starring Ellen Barkan.
“Dating the Enemy” (1996) - A couple awakes to discover that they’ve switched bodies.
“The Hot Chick” (2002) - An attractive but mean-spirited teen ends up in the body of an older man.
Body-switching films provide lots of comedic possibilities and also some life lessons, the latter on the order of “Walk a mile in my high heels.”
The plot lines of body-switching movies are unusual, freaky even.
That brings us to “Freaky,” the latest body-switching movie, and with a horror twist.
“Freaky” is in the comedic tradition of horror film parodies about a group of clueless teens or young persons.
These include: “Student Bodies” (1981), “Saturday the 14th” (1981), “Evil Dead II” (1987), “Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers” (1988), “Gremlins 2: The New Batch” (1990), “Scream” (1996) and its sequels, and “Scary Movie” (2000),
The horror and comedy is often rude, crude and lewd. “Freaky” is no exception.
In “Freaky,” Vince Vaughn plays the Blissfield Butcher, a middle-aged serial killer who switches bodies with Millie (Kathryn Newton), a Blissfield High School student.
The two switch bodies in one of the most unconvincing body-switching scenes in cinema history.
That said, the gender-switching plot provides lots of opportunities for “What ifs.” “Freaky” capitalizes on a number of these.
“Freaky” is freaky fun. There are a number of laugh-out-loud scenes with visual and verbal puns. There are also some scares. The scares are more on the order of “Eww. Gross.”
Christopher Landon (“Happy Death Day,” 2017, and its sequel; “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse,” 2015; “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones,” 2014) directs from a screenplay he wrote with Michael Kennedy (TV series, “Bordertown,” 2016).
Landon directs with a wink-wink, nudge, nudge touch, letting the audience in on the improbable and silly story.
“Freaky” is bolstered by strong performances.
Vaughn (“Four Christmases,” 2008; “The Break-Up,” “2006; “Wedding Crashers,” 2005; “Psycho,” 1998; ’”Swingers,” 1996) is really scary as the serial killer, The Butcher, and really funny as Millie, the teen girl in The Butcher’s body.
Kathryn Newton (TV series, “Big Little Lies,” 2017-2019; TV series, “Supernatural,” 2014-2018) delineates her performance as Millie, a shy teen female who is bullied, and as The Butcher in the teen girl’s body, determined, near silent and with a death stare.
Memorable in supporting performances are Millie’s high school friends, Celeste O’Connor (Nyla), Misha Osherovich (Josh) and Emily Holder (Sandra); high school bully, Melissa Collazo (Ryler); Alan Ruck (high school teacher); Katie Finneran (Millie’s mother), and Dana Drori (Millie’s older sister).
“Freaky” is funny and scary. It’s a freaky combination.
MPAA rated R (Restricted Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.) for strong bloody horror violence, sexual content, and language throughout; Genre: Comedy, Horror, Thriller; Run time: 1 hr., 42 min.; Distributed by Universal Pictures.
Credit Readers Anonymous:
“Freaky” was filmed in Alpharetta, Ga.
Movie Box Office,
Nov. 20-22; Weekend box office results were unavailable because of the Focus early deadline for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.
“The Croods: A New Age,”
PG: Joel Crawford directs the voice talents of Emma Stone, Nicolas Cage, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann, and Peter Dinklage and the animation feature film. The prehistoric family the Croods are challenged by the Bettermans. It’s an evolving story.
“A Christmas Carol,”
No MPAA rating: Jacqui Morris directs the voice talents of Carey Mulligan, Andy Serkis, Leslie Caron, Martin Freeman and the animated film that retells the Charles Dickens’ classic. A Victorian performance of the Dickens’ tale is seen from the perspective of the imagination of a child in the audience.
R: Preston A. Whitmore II directs Macy Gray, Malcolm David Kelley, Jeremy Meeks and Natasha Marc in the action film based on the novel by Teri Woods. In the first of a planned trilogy. James Bernard Jr., aka Dutch, is the most dangerous criminal in New Jersey.
No MPAA rating: Steven Bernstein directs Rhys Ifans, John Malkovich, Ellen David, Tony Hale and Zosia Mamet in the Biography Drama. The last days of poet Dylan Thomas are recounted.
Alex Winter directs the documentary film about the founder of the Mothers of Invention rock band. The film includes interviews with Frank Zappa, Pamela Des Barres, Steve Vai and Gail Zappa.