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Top 10 Body Swap Movies

Matthew Newlin Matthew Newlin
August 5th, 2011 8:33am EDT

change up

This weekend, Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds will add their names to the long and distinguished list of actors who have tackled the “body swap” movie.  In “The Change-Up,” Bateman and Reynolds play friends with drastically different lifestyles: Bateman is the devoted husband and father, Reynolds is the philandering playboy. After a night of drinking, the two wake up in each other’s bodies, something neither of them really wanted.

Body swap movies have been around for a long time and are usually quite entertaining, if formulaic and predictable. Here’s our list of the Top Ten Body Swap Movies of all time.

1. Big (1988)

Not only is “Big” one of the most touching and loved films of the 80s, it was also one of the first films to show off Tom Hanks’ talent as a both a comic and serious actor. Josh Baskin is a 13-year-old computer-loving nerd who makes a wish on a fortune-telling machine called Zoltar. His wish: to be “big.” He wakes up the next morning as a full grown man (Hanks) and must find a way to live on his own while he figures out how to fix it. Hanks was nominated for an Academy Award for his role, and it’s no surprise why. His physical performance is matched by the moving emotional performance he gives as Josh learns what it means to be a grown up and that maybe childhood isn’t so bad.

BJM2. Being John Malkovich (1999)

Strictly speaking, “Being John Malkovich” is not the typical body swap movie, but it is one of the most inventive films of all time thanks to a mind-bending screenplay by Charlie Kaufman. John Cusack plays Craig Schwartz, an out of work puppeteer who finds a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich. He soon finds that he can control Malkovich’s body from inside his head and this leads him down a rabbit hole of possibilities. Philosophical questions aside, the film is brilliantly directed by Spike Jonze and features an amazing supporting cast including Catherine Keener and Cameron Diaz.

3. All of Me (1984)

Steve Martin is one of the most talented physical comedians of all time, and his skills are on full display in “All of Me.” The wonderful Lily Tomlin plays an eccentric millionaire who dies and whose soul, through a series of mishaps, ends up in Martin’s body where they fight for control. The majority of the film, with its very thin plot, is just a showcase for Martin battling against himself. There are some terrifically hilarious moments and excellent performances by Martin and Tomlin.

4. Like Father Like Son (1987)

“Like Father Like Son” is sheer hilarity all the way through, with Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron playing the father and son who switch places. Watching Moore enjoy the freedom that comes with being an adult (and a doctor, no less) and Cameron trying to navigate the ins and outs of high school is pure gold. A young Sean Astin pops up as Cameron (or Moore’s?) bad influence of a friend. Moore is brilliant and only topped this performance with his role in “Arthur.”

5. Freaky Friday (2003)

The original 1976 “Freaky Friday” is fun and all, but the 2003 version with Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis is much more entertaining. Lohan and Curtis play mother and daughter who switch bodies after an argument about whose life is harder. Curtis does a decent job as the kid in the grown up body, but her performance is a little forced. Lohan, though, steals the show as the adult trapped in a teenager’s body trying to act like a teenager. Her interactions with her daughter’s peers are priceless and show Lohan could have had a serious film career in her future. Maybe she still will.

Freaky Friday

6. Vice Versa (1988)

Where did Judge Reinhold go? He was at least partially responsible for the success of so many 80s comedies: “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Ruthless People,” and this one, “Vice Versa,” where he and his son his son, played by Fred Savage, swap places thanks to a mysterious voodoo skull. His performance is much more slapstick and over-the-top than Hanks’ in “Big,” but Reinhold is great in this role and reminds us how good these movies can really be.

7. 18 Again! (1988)

That’s right: not one, not two, but three body swap movies came out in 1988. “18 Again!” is a little seen film which stars George Burns as the 81-year-old Jack Watson who falls into a coma and whose soul is switched with his 18-year-old son, David, played by Charlie Schlatter. The real joy of this movie is watching the great George Burns in action and Schlatter’s rather impressive performance. What would an old man do if he woke up as a teenager? Whatever he wants to.

8. 13 Going On 30 (2004)

Is “13 Going On 30” a mindless chick flick with few original ideas? Yes. But, is Jennifer Garner hilarious as the 13-year-old girl who wakes up in the body of a 30-year-old? Without a doubt! After a few big budget stumbles (“Pearl Harbor,” “Daredevil”), Garner is completely lovable as Jenna, the teenager who can’t believe she has a grown-up job, an apartment, lots of clothes and a hot boyfriend. Garner’s charm only goes so far, but her supporting cast (including Mark Ruffalo, Andy Serkis and Judy Greer) is what makes the movie watchable.

face off

9. Face/Off (1997)

Director John Woo’s action-packed film features an obsessed cop (John Travolta) who undergoes an experimental surgery to switch faces with the diabolical criminal (Nicolas Cage) he’s been pursuing for years. Overlooking the ridiculous premise, “Face/Off” is one of the best action movies to come out in the 90s. Travolta and Cage are having a blast hamming it up for Woo and it couldn’t be more fun. Travolta is especially enjoyable because he’s never as good as when he is a bad guy.

10. The Hot Chick (2002)

In “The Hot Chick,” a cut but snotty high school girl goes to sleep and wakes up in the body of a middle-aged man. Though it was a bomb at the box office, this Rob Schneider vehicle was an important stepping stone for two young actresses: Rachel McAdams and Anna Faris. For Faris, it gave her a chance to step out of her “Scary Movie” role and show off her comedy chops in a movie that wasn’t a spoof. McAdams, who played Jessica, the girl who turns into Schneider, used this performance to snag her star-making role in “Mean Girls.”

The Hot Chick

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