Either way the reality is that the two works demonstrate that ultimately motherhood is work and doing it effectively while concurrently chasing career goals and challenges is even more work. Though this issue is played down to some extent as the mother (while her daughter is in her body) is allowed to ignore and remake some of the obligations of her frantic career and social world, the works are congruent in that the conflict for working mothers is an essential one, often creating lighthearted conflicts and genre-based statements about the stress that the conflict can create in a women's life. In other words, having it all takes a significant toll on self, and each mother is depicted as seeking resolution that is found then through the reintroduction of childlike needs and freedoms, that help her realize what is really important and what needs to be paid attention to, i.e. family. In the 2003 version some of this is played down by the concurrent adult obligation of a huge wedding and all the planning involved but it is clear that the mother (up to the switch) has been managing three concurrent and important issues with the utilization of the comical relief of technology, which in a modern role switch the daughter seems to be clueless to manage. While the 2003 film depicts the daughter being unable to manage a blackberry, PDA and cell phone concurrently the 1976 version shows the daughter (in the mother's body also) being unable to manage a variety of household technology and obligations, including a very overstuffed and responsive washing machine, which first thing in the morning flood the house and then requires repair and cleanup, opening the house to a cacophony of workers, then the neighbor attempting to retrieve a borrowed hairdryer and lastly the maid, who is unapologetically raining generation gap insults regarding Annabelle's poor behavior and out of control nature. The comedic scenes that follow lead the mother into the saving company of the Annabelle's crush, whom has previously spurned her because she is a tomboy and injuries and insults to the house that further exacerbate the situation. All the while the genre is developed into a collective of timely social commentaries on technology, generational conflict, stress and overextension of responsibilities and reliabilities.
Ultimately both girl's ignorance of the technology proves an important twist in that the two versions of the daughter become capable of seeing just how obligated her mother is, as compared to her and the mother sees that maybe taking a few hours off work to focus on more important things (herself and her relationships with her children and family) is not so bad after all. While in the 1976 version of the film Annabelle manages to respond to and deal with all the obligations associated with her mother's role, comically and in a trial of errors but effectively, none the less the works have completely different tones, with regard to the development of self and the world around these women, both proving that motherhood is work and that obligations are extreme in this fast paced crazy world.
Even comedies express a more benign version of uncertainty. Both versions of Freaky Friday (1976 and 2003) and Baby Boom (1987) exhibit a post-Pill, post-Women's Lib desire to place career over family. Much of the comedy in these films stems from the tension between motherhood and work. Diane Keaton's Wall Street consultant, at whose doorstep an infant has been left, finally chooses to move to Vermont, marry the cute large animal vet instead of the stockbroker, and make her money selling homemade baby food (a more domesticated version of capitalism). and, after being horrified to find themselves in each other's bodies, the mothers and daughters of Freaky Friday come to appreciate their respective positions. Even more: what Keaton, Jodie Foster, and Lindsey Lohan all learn when they're forced into motherhood is that motherhood is not opposed to work -- it is work. Motherhood is a labor-intensive activity, whether or not you're paid to do it.
It is clear that the films, as comparative models provide different views of the times in which they were released, even involving a strikingly similar plot and story line. The works stress both universal principles of conflict, such as the stress of managing a family and being a mother, relationship development and maintenance and to some extent appearance, yet both do so in very different ways, all playing gout as genre updates on the family comedy genre. If comparing the two films on the issues of the stress of a working mother the general message would actually be indicative of the fact that this expanding role, and increased responsibility (including the connectivity of technology) has actually become even more challenging and complicated than it was in 1976.
Genre as Social Commentary
The comedy genre is known for its ability to play up social conflict in a fashion that is digestible for the viewing public, even in some cases some of the most significant of social stressors, like grief of divorce and/or death of a spouse, generational communication gaps, evolving social roles that challenge the fabric of society and even gender role playing that can also challenge the standards and taboos of society. In the case of Freaky Friday even the issue of age differences in relationships is breeched (first with the innocent infatuation of the crush boy in 1976 on the mother (with Annabelle in her body) and more specifically in the budding relationship between crush boy in the 2003 version and the mother (with Anna in her body). Each of the films offers significant examples of the way that the comedy genre and more specifically the family comedy genre provides approachable social commentary on issues that plague society but need to be addressed as they evolve into different traditions, mores and taboos in any given period. The aspect of suspended disbelief and comedy offered by a film is seriously indicative of the genre of comedy and helps transform society by allowing issues previously unapproachable to be breeched first in comedic form and then possibly in more serious form after th shock effect of the issue has worn down a bit.
Each of the films, respond effectively to transitional roles, though clearly the 1976 version challenges the viewer to see that the marriage, which is intact often provides countless obligations, beyond mothering that make one wonder if being alone or working outside the home were actually a better option than choosing to be a mother and a wife. Though this issue is clearly not completely breeched in the film it is foreshadowed through the comedy genre as the mother (the daughter in her body) teachers her young son the realities of what it means to be a "male chauvinist pig" and why this is bad. Each evolving role is indicative of the time and place of the films relaease when Annabelle's generation is reaching out to reject the in toto the obligations and standards that she sees as holding her mother back from self-discovery. In the 2003 version though the conflict is generational communication a consistent genre theme of family comedy, there is also a sense that the world has evolved significantly as the mother is seeking a new relationship, (demonstrative of an old one ending) and because it is family comedy it is as a result of her own widowhood (though if it were simply comedy it would likely be as a result of divorce) and trying to rebuild her life among the cacophony of social and career obligations as well as her obligations as a mother, with at least some traditional values and standards. It is also interesting that the mother's tolerance of the daughter's behavior also serves as a demonstration of the genre, as it serves as a tool for which countless comical events take place. In the 1976 version the mother tolerates and even covets her daughter's physical freedom, such as her ability to dress like a boy, wear pants and even skateboard. While in the 2003 version the genre comment evolves into her mother and the whole family in fact seeking to tolerate the extremely loud garage band practice which Anna subjects the family to on a weekly basis. Both examples clearly show that the mother does not understand the desire to act in those ways or appreciate those things but tolerates it in her daughter as a form of self-expression that she does not always allow herself. The tolerance of the mother for misunderstood behaviors and desires then serves as genre specific social commentary.
Social commentary is a constant in the world, challenges of social norms and taboos permeate through the popular film media in the U.S. The film genre of comedy and family comedy in general has a particularly strong history…