Grade: C+

When the original “Freaky Friday” was released in 1976, the premise of a teen girl magically switching bodies with her mother was reasonably fresh. (That’s the case even though it had been foreshadowed in Peter Ustinov’s 1947 “Vice Versa,” set in Victorian England, in which a boy–played by Anthony Newley, of all people–changed places with his father. Presumably Mary Rodgers was familiar with F. Anstey’s novel, on which Ustinov’s picture was based, before penning hers.) In the intervening quarter-century, however, we’ve been inundated with movies repeating the formula: the peak (or, from the standpoint of enjoyment, nadir) came in 1987-88, when “Like Father, Like Son” and a second “Vice Versa” came out almost simultaneously. That’s why this remake of the old flick can’t help but seem rather stale. “Creaky Friday” is more like it.

That doesn’t mean it’s an embarrassment. By the standards of this sort of white-bread family flick aimed at adolescent girls and their moms and grandmoms, it’s not bad; audiences that doted on “The Princess Diaries,” “What a Girl Wants” and “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” should find it–-to use words they’ll think a great compliment–really cute. Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan certainly carry off the lead roles of Tess and Anna Coleman with aplomb. The former, who hasn’t had a meaty role in years, flings herself into both sides of her character with great gusto. Her by-the-book mom is good enough, but she clearly relishes impersonating a kid trapped in a woman’s body after the transformation, and her enthusiasm is catching. Lohan holds up her end nicely, acting the slightly dorky high schooler effectively and really coming into her own when she takes on her mother’s more rigid, efficient personality. The two men in their lives come off well, too. Mark Harmon proves pleasantly low-key as Tess’ fiancé; he makes the fellow a likable and understanding guy, and his character’s supportive attitude toward the close is a very nice surprise. At the other end of the age spectrum, Chad Michael Murray makes a grubbily handsome impression as a student that Anna’s interested in, but who shows a preference for Tess after the personality switch. The idea can’t escape a hint of creepiness, but as Murray plays it, that problem is minimized. Technically the picture is fine too, with proficient work from DP Oliver Wood; and though Mark Waters’ direction is hardly the most scintillating imaginable, he keeps things moving reasonably well without allowing matters to degenerate into utterly frenetic silliness.

On the other hand, the whole fortune-cookie business that’s the linchpin of the switch is weak, and the Chinese restaurant mother-and-daughter pair involved in it (Rosalind Chao and Lucille Soong) are uncomfortable stereotypes. At home, meanwhile, the precocious kid brother (Ryan Malgarini) and befuddled grandfather (Harold Gould) are tiresome cliches. A subplot regarding Anna’s nasty English teacher (Stephen Tobolowsky) is also clumsy, as is one involving her classroom rival (Christina Vidal).

The whole point of “Freaky Friday,” of course, is that one can never really know what another is feeling without walking a mile–or just standing for a couple of days–in her shoes. And there are worse things for a movie to teach youngsters than empathy and the value of understanding others’ perspectives. Still, at its best the movie is no more than an amusingly retrograde retread of an idea that’s been done all too frequently on the screen. This bit of body-switch fluff is innocuous, bland, and–given its familiarity–sadly unnecessary.