Spoiler Free FREAKY FRIDAY Review: “Every Minute of Song and Dance is Joyful!”

Updated August 12, 2018

Enjoy FREAKY FRIDAY when it debuted on Disney Channel August 10? Well, you can watch Cozi Zuehlsdorff as Ellie and Heidi Blickenstaff as Katherine at home when FREAKY FRIDAY releases on DVD September 25. This musical version of FREAKY FRIDAY is based on Disney Theatrical Productions’ stage adaptation of the novel by Mary Rodgers. The FREAKY FRIDAY DVD includes bonus features such as blooper reels, deleted scenes, and the audition tapes for Cozi Zuehlsdorff and Heidi Blickenstaff. If you missed FREAKY FRIDAY, continue reading for our spoiler-free review.

FREAKY FRIDAY

Original post follows below

The Moms have done it again!  Adventures by Daddy was invited to the world premiere of Disney Channel’s 105th original movie FREAKY FRIDAY at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.  As with the TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES #Mamarazzi screening,  we were invited to a conversation beforehand.  This time, we met at the Essex House hotel for a lovely brunch, then The Moms’ Denise Albert chatted with Cozi Zuehlsdorff (Ellie), Heidi Blickenstaff (Katherine, in her first movie role), and Executive Producer Susan Cartsonis.  I’ll be sprinkling in tidbits from the panel throughout the review.

The Moms’ Denise Albert hosted a panel with Disney’s Freaky Friday stars Cozi Zuehlsdorff and Heidi Blickenstaff and Executive Producer Susan Cartsonis

During the panel, we learned about the history of this version of FREAKY FRIDAY.  Spoiler:  It’s a musical!  Disney Theatricals had been working on it for several years.  It was playing in La Jolla when Disney Channel came to see it and knew they had to make it into a movie.  It’s also being transformed into a 90-minute musical for schools to perform.  It’s going to be #FreakyFridayForever!

So, you may have seen one or two of the previous Freaky Friday movies, but this one is so different.  As I mentioned above, it’s a musical.  And the music is fantastic!  Cozi Zuehlsdorff, who has written music for previous roles, wrote and performed the main song “What It’s Like to Be Me.”  She plays Ellie, the daughter who switches places with her mother, Katherine.  The basic elements of the original story – the body swap connected to a magical item; the day spent living each other’s lives; the revelations that determine the switch back – are there.  How they all fit into modern times adds a new tension to the story.  Their desperate need to switch back by the next day (Katherine is getting married and Ellie wants to participate in the Hunt – an all-night scavenger hunt) leads to madcap adventures for each of them.

FREAKY FRIDAY

Cozi Zuehlsdorff (“Dolphin Tale”) and Heidi Blickenstaff (“The Little Mermaid” and “Something Rotten!” on Broadway, and the stage production of “Freaky Friday”) star in the Disney Channel Original Movie “Freaky Friday,” a music-driven, body-swap comedy about a mother and daughter who, strangely, spend a day in each other’s shoes. It premieres FRIDAY, AUGUST 10 (8:00-9:45 p.m. EDT/PDT), on Disney Channel. (Disney Channel/David Bukach)

FREAKY FRIDAY is primarily a story about walking a mile in each other’s shoes.  Ellie and Katherine learn about each other’s lives in ways they couldn’t have in their own skins.  Just as important, though, are the relationships and how they maintain and transform them as they are each other.  Ellie has a younger brother, Fletcher, who is going through his own turmoils, not least of which is Ellie’s attitude towards him and their soon-to-be-stepfather.  Katherine has her own business, which is expected to get a much-needed boost by being featured in a wedding magazine, and an assistant, both of which are in Ellie’s hands as she navigates her mother’s day.

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(L-R) Jason Maybaum and Heidi Blickenstaff go on the hunt in FREAKY FRIDAY (Disney Channel/David Bukach)

FREAKY FRIDAY’s cast is outstanding.  Cozi and Heidi have excellent chemistry together (on and off screen).  During the panel, they told us their favorite scene to shoot was the mirror scene, which happens immediately after the switch.  It was as funny, clever, charming, and fun as they said.  It was hilarious!  And so true!  (You’ll see what I mean when you watch FREAKY FRIDAY.)  There’s a great dance number at the end, too.  I loved it when Ellie did a few steps of the Charleston in her flapper-style dress.

FREAKY FRIDAY

Cozi Zuehlsdorff (“Dolphin Tale”) and Heidi Blickenstaff (“The Little Mermaid” and “Something Rotten!” on Broadway, and the stage production of “Freaky Friday”) star in the Disney Channel Original Movie FREAKY FRIDAY (Disney Channel/David Bukach)

FREAKY FRIDAY airs on the Disney Channel this Friday, August 10, 2018, at 8:00 p.m. EDT.  FREAKY FRIDAY is aimed at tweens and teens and their parents – an excellent bonding experience – but there are scenes younger children will enjoy (every scene with Boris and/or Presto), too.  I can’t wait to watch it again with my nieces! I’m also going to be finding the original book by Mary Rodgers to add to my summer reading list.  If you’re a fan of body-switching stories, add “The Mirror” by Marlys Millhiser to your summer reading list.  I’m going to add it to mine again, too.

At the end of the main session of the panel, the panel members took questions from the audience.  Some of the answers have been included above; this one, asked by a child, is my favorite:

Q:  When you were 7, what did you wish you could swap with your parents to be able to do?

Heidi:  “Drive!”  She loves to drive and had a lot of fun with the driving scenes in the movie.

Cozi:  “Have dessert whenever I wanted.”  Same!

Here’s a bonus question, also asked by a child, which got the best answer from Heidi.

Q:  How did you switch bodies in the movie? (Perfect question)

Heidi:  “Movie magic!”

Susan:  “Stay up late!”  There was a general consensus in the room that sleeping is a waste of time.

The Moms’ Denise Albert with Disney’s Freaky Friday stars Cozi Zuehlsdorff and Heidi Blickenstaff and Executive Producer Susan Cartsonis taking a chance on the hourglass!

One final note – At the premiere of the movie, there were speeches from several people before the movie started.  The audience was full of Disney Channel stars and crew.  At one point, someone started listing the names of the cast and crew of the movie.  There were loud cheers and applause for each person named throughout all of the speeches.  During the panel, Heidi commented that Disney takes the best care and is full of the best people who take very good care of you and are always supportive (that’s very nearly a direct quote).  The reactions of all of these Disney employees says a lot about Disney as a company and as an employer.  Kudos to Disney for fostering that type of environment.  A last note from Cozi – the best part was getting to make her Disney Channel promo:  “Hi!  My name is Cozi Zuehlsdorff and you’re watching the Disney Channel.”  She even made the mouse ears motion with her hand.  Adorable!

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The Broadway community and other celebrities arrive at the premiere of Disney Channel’s upcoming “Freaky Friday,” at the Beacon Theater in New York City on Monday, July 30, 2018 (Disney Channel/Lou Rocco)

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About George Gensler

George Gensler is a copyrights specialist during the week and a runner on the weekends. She lives in New York City now, but has lived in five countries on three continents. She grew up traveling the world, but her official residence was in Southern California and every visit home included a trip to Disneyland. She has also visited every Disney Park around the world and sailed on board two Disney cruises. She threw in a visit to the Disney Family museum in San Francisco for good measure, and has had the Premier Disney Park Pass since its inception.