Movie Mom

Movie Mom


List: Body-Switching Movies

posted by Nell Minow

This week’s release of “17 Again,” starring Zac Efron and Matthew Perry, about a middle-aged man who finds himself turned back into a teenager, reminded me of some of my favorite “body-switching” movies.

1. Freaky Friday Both feature film versions of the classic book about a mother and daughter who switch bodies are delightful and it is fun to see them both and talk about the way each one reflects its era. Be sure to read the book by Mary Rodgers (daughter of Richard Rodgers of Rodgers and Hammerstein).

2. Vice Versa Judge Reinhold and “Wonder Years’” Fred Savage play the body-switching father and son in this 1988 comedy.

3. All of Me This very funny story about a wealthy lifelong invalid who wants her spirit to find a healthy body has lawyer Steve Martin is inhabited by the spirit of Lily Tomlin (some mature material).

4. Face/Off It’s actually not the bodies but the faces that switch in this fantasy-thriller that has cop Nicolas Cage swapping his face and voice with criminal John Travolta (very mature material).

5. “Dating the Enemy” A pair switches not just bodies but genders in this story about an estranged couple about to break up find themselves in each other’s bodies in this Australian film starring Guy Pearce.

6. Big One of the most beloved films in this category has Tom Hanks as a boy in a grown-up body. It includes the “Chopsticks” scene, with Hanks and Robert Loggia jumping over an enormous keyboard to play the song. (Some mature material)

7. “Turnabout” This odd little 1940 comedy has a married couple switching bodies thanks to a magical statue in their bedroom.

8. Prelude to a Kiss Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan fall in love and then on their wedding day an old man gives her a kiss and what began as a fairly standard romance becomes a meditation on identity and intimacy.

9. Being John Malkovich A brilliant screenplay by Charlie Kauffman explores the nature of identity, art, gender, the wish for immortality, and a lot more in this story of a portal to the mind of actor Malkovich (who appears as himself, sort of). (Very mature material)

10. 18 Again! and Seventeen Again Body-switching skips a generation as grandparents find themselves teenagers again in these two movies, one starring George Burns and the other starring Tia and Tamera Mowry.

Others in this category include “Goodbye Charlie” and Switch (both about lotharios whose spirits come back as women) and A Saintly Switch, a Disney film with Viveca A. Fox and David Allen Grier as a quarreling pregnant woman and her football player husband who switch bodies thanks to a magical potion.

And we have more ahead with “Opposites Attract” (a couple) from Broken Lizard’s Jay Chandrasekhar and “Traded” (a professional football player and a high school nerd), starring Ashton Kutcher.



  • Tim1974

    I have always found body switching to be fascinating. Not only would it be interesting to feel what it would be like in another’s body, particularly if the sex changes, but to find out what it would be like to experience another’s problems etc. and see it from a different perspective. I wonder if we could actually do this if the world would be a better place for it. Anyway, I am hoping that this new film will be done in good taste and be able to be enjoyed by all.

  • Nell Minow

    Agreed, Tim! That is a large part of the enduring appeal of body-switching movies as well as movies (and before that, plays) about people pretending to be another person, sometimes of another gender. Think of “Some Like It Hot” and “Tootsie” as well as Shakespeare plays like “As You Like It” and “Twelfth Night.”
    The other part has to do with us in the audience being in on the secret and thus having a special understanding that lets us see what the characters do not. I’m hoping this new movie will be a lot of fun.

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  • Kate

    You forgot “It’s a Boy Girl Thing!”

    • Nell Minow

      Thanks, Kate! I didn’t even know that one! I’ll have to check it out.

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