I am the biggest sucker for a body-swap movie. The genre is a golden goose of slapstick and fish-out-of-water humor, but not all can ascend Mount Olympus to reign supreme alongside the gods — Freaky Friday, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and … the other two Freaky Fridays. There has to be a hierarchy, people!
Alas, some body-swap movies are created merely to serve the wellspring and keep it from stagnating. Freaky is in this class and accepts its lot — maybe a little too easily. To start, we find our awkward but lovable teen lead Millie (Kathryn Newton, Lady Bird) alone and suddenly assailed on a freakin’ weekend night by a bloodthirsty serial killer with a knife. After barely surviving the attack, she awakes the next morning to find herself in the lair of the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn). She is different. She is in a grown man’s body. She is freaked!
Here’s the deal: If you think grown men talking and acting like Gen Z girls is funny, you will like this movie. Period. Vaughn is perfectly cast in the role, plus there are some really fun gore scenes. But, I think writer/director Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day) rests on his laurels just a bit too much, resulting in a plot that packs the cinematic nourishment of a can of La Croix. You wrote the Happy Death Day sequel, Mr. Landon. You can do better!
But now I’m thinking I’m giving this popcorn flick a hard time. While the story is thin, the vibe is fun and it’s really sad to know this won’t be enjoyed in packed theaters. This is the type of movie that deserves the screams, laughs and a few groans that only a room full of strangers can bring.
Though theaters weren’t close to packed this Friday the 13th, Freaky is still the choice I’d make at the ticket booth this weekend. And if you’re choosing to stay away from theaters for the foreseeable future, in a couple weeks’ time when this film becomes available for home streaming, you, too, can laugh at Vaughn making out with a teen boy half his size while you eat pizza, alone in your underwear. The choice is yours. Stay safe out there, but, more importantly, stay freaky.
Now playing at AMC River Hills 10 and Carolina Cinemark