“ Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy - Fantasy / Theatrical Release: 1988 / Parental Guidance / Director: Brian Gilbert / Actors: Judge Reinhold, Fred Savage, Corinne Bohrer, Swoosie Kurtz, Jane Kaczmarek ... / DVD released 2004-05-17 at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, Dubbed, PAL „
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In the late 80's there was a fad for body swap fuilms where adults swapped bodies with children primarily a sort of paedophile fantasy thing maybe but these were all comedies of varying quality and the concept has been revived in the last couple of years.
Judge Reinhold stars alongside Fred Savage, Reinhold plays Marshall Seymour who ends up in posession by accident of an ancient Asian artefact little knowing that it posesses supernatural powers. A successful businessman who has neglected his relationship with his young son Charlie after his divorce however his wife dumps Charlie off with him for a few days and while looking at the artefact the two swap bodies. Now Charlie must attend a number of meetings in his fathers body while the thief who stole it is hot on the trail as well.
This film is rather funny however it is not the best comedy in this particular genre but overall the film works well enough. Reinhold is ideally cast in the role of Marshall as he has a rather youthful look about him therefore when he has to start behaving with the mannerisms and innocence of a young boy he is able to carry the role off to great comic effect.
Savage has a good background in TV and a sa child actor has appeared in films as well and so he is perfectly competent in the role, he also has a sort of older look about him in his eyes which also helps make him convincing in the role.
The only real limitation of the film is that it is rather predictable in places and follows pretty much the same sort of plot as films like Freaky Friday and Big do. Nothing original but an entertaining romp none the less.
Film only review
A valuable artefact is stolen from an Asian temple and, after some confusion at the airport, it ends up in the hands of an American businessman, Marshall Seymour. A few days later, Marshall's ex-wife leaves their son Charlie with Marshall for a few days, much to Marshall's chagrin, and while handling the artefact, Marshall and Charlie somehow switch bodies. Marshall is devastated; he has a number of important meetings coming up and, in Charlie's body, the only thing he can do is hope that Charlie, in his body, can manage to keep things afloat without losing him his job. At the same time, the criminal owner of the artefact is looking for it, and won't let anything stand in her way.
Judge Reinhold plays Marshall Seymour, who at the point the film was made in 1988 was probably at the height of his career, following roles in films like Beverley Hills Cops, Gremlins and Ruthless People. I have never considered him to be a marvellous actor, but he is more or less perfect for this role. He looks boyish for a start, and is very good at behaving stupidly, and that is just what is needed here. His mannerisms when he plays Charlie are very funny, even down to the way that he walks. There's certainly not much substance to the role, but I wasn't expecting it anyway, and I think he gave a very enjoyable performance, particularly when he starts out as the very stiff, boringly hard-working Marshall.
I was pleased to see Fred Savage (from The Wonder Years) as Charlie. He looks incredibly young, younger than I think he actually was (he must have been about eleven, but looks more like nine). For his age, I think he did well, although I must say I preferred him when he was playing Charlie as opposed to his father. He just came over as being a little pompous when he was playing Marshall and didn't really seem to take on Marshall's mannerisms, apart from his penchant for martinis. Still, for what the film is, he did a good enough enough job in the role, and he does have cuteness on his side. Nobody else really made an impact in the film - Marshall has a love interest, but the woman was so dull, I can't even remember her name.
There were a number of 'body swap films' that came out around the same time as Vice Versa; Big, starring Tom Hanks, is probably the best known. Unfortunately, I think this meant that Vice Versa has been forgotten about through the years, and probably for a very good reason. It's a thoroughly enjoyable film, but it is not one that is going to stand out in the memory for very long and it is so easy to guess how it is going to end. And ultimately, the similarity to Freaky Friday (either the original one made in the seventies or the more recent Lindsay Lohan one) means that this one is probably going to remain buried, just brought out every now and again to keep the children quiet during the holidays. This is, however, perhaps unfair, because it is based on a 1948 film starring Peter Ustinov, which came way before the seventies version of Freaky Friday.
That is a shame in some ways, because I actually did enjoy the film. It is silly, but it's light and fluffy and there are some really funny moments. And most of all, it is totally harmless. There is nothing here that isn't family friendly and although the humour is most likely to appeal to children, it isn't so juvenile that adults can't enjoy it too. There are plenty of morals to be seen; although Charlie comes from a broken home and doesn't really get on well with his father, their relationship really improves during the course of the film, proving that spending time together was really all they needed. And Marshall comes to realise that pouring his heart and soul into his job is not healthy for him or his relationships.
I think the artefact stolen from an Asian temple bit was probably there to make the film that little bit different from its competitors; however, I did think that it, and the criminal chasing it across the world, was a bit unnecessary and ended up diluting the film a bit too much. Nevertheless, it did mean that it was never entirely clear what was going to happen next! And despite these silly bits, the script is great and was well thought out for a film of this genre. Although the film is based on a book by F Anstey, I was thrilled to see that the screenplay was put together by Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais, who together are famous for writing a number of hit British comedies, including Porridge, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads and Auf Wiedersehen Pet.
This isn't a film that I would recommend anyone rushes out to buy. However, it is better than I think it has been given credit for, and is perfect for family viewing, especially over Christmas (the story takes place over Christmas). And although there are a number of other films with a very similar storyline, I think Judge Reinhold has done a good enough job here to hold his head up and be proud. This is comfort viewing. Three stars out of five.
The DVD is available from play.com for £3.99.
Running time: 98 minutes