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10 Body Swap Movies That Aren't Actually Body Swap Movies No Matter How Often You Put Them On Your Listicle

By Rob Hunter | Guides | April 1, 2014 | Comments ()

By Rob Hunter | Guides | April 1, 2014 |


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Debates over and about movies can be a healthy way to share opinions, make friends, and kill time while standing in line for yet another movie. But while arguing over which Marvel Universe Phase 1 movie is the best (Captain America: The First Avenger) or which Adam Sandler film is the worst (umm…) can lead to great fun there are certain things that really aren’t up for debate.

To paraphrase a well-known quote, “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts. Asshole.”

I may be conflating two different quotes on opinions there, but the point remains. Some things just are, and no amount of debate is going to change that. One example? The innate awesomeness of Kurt Russell. Another? Body swap movies. Now pay attention as this definition gets a bit technical and detailed — a body swap movie requires two people who swap bodies. Read it again if you need to, but to illustrate the point better think Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris in Freaky Friday. Or Meg Ryan and Sydney Walker in Prelude to a Kiss.

Two people. Two bodies. A swap. Simple right? And yet just about any and every list of so-called body swap movies ignores that clear definition and includes films where people turn into their older or younger selves, aliens replace humans, people die and get reincarnated, and so on. It may be semantics, but it’s not difficult. So to help settle this right now so it never has to be discussed again on the internet or in person, here are 10 “body swap” movies that aren’t actually body swap movies no matter how many times you include them on your listicle.


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17 Again (& Seventeen Again)

Older people get youth-enized! Both of these movies, the one you’ve heard of and the one you haven’t, fall under the “age change” grouping in that older people are transformed into their younger selves. Like true body swap movies, this happens so that the characters can learn valuable life lessons that eluded them, but there’s no swapping involved. 2009’s 17 Again features a 37-year-old Matthew Perry magically turning into his 17 year old self (Zac Efron, obviously), but thankfully no one wakes up in Perry’s droopy carcass. The understandably lesser known Seventeen Again is a star vehicle for Tia and Tamera Mowry with one of the twins playing the other’s newly jail-bait grandmother.


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All of Me

Soulful magic! One of Carl Reiner’s last funny films (Summer School, his actual last funny movie, came 3 years later), this Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin team-up is mostly an exercise in Martin’s physical comedy genius. Tomlin plays a wealthy lady planning to have her soul transferred to a healthier, younger body (Victoria Tennant), but an accident instead drops her essence into Martin’s body. She’s able to control his right side leading to all manner of comedic shenanigans, but her body is an empty shell devoid of both life and Martin.

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Being John Malkovich

Charlie Kaufman! Spike Jonze’s feature directorial debut offers a metaphysical take on celebrity, loneliness, and the meaning of life, and the presence of John Malkovich (as himself) raises it to an absolutely delightful level. As wonderfully odd and entertaining as it is though being plopped into Malkovich’s head for fifteen minutes before being dumped by the New Jersey turnpike does not constitute a body swap.


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Big (and 13 Going on 30)

Childhood wishes! Like Father Like Son started the late ’80s body swap craze and was quickly followed by Vice Versa, 18 Again, and this decidedly non-body swap body-swap movie, which as fate would have it, became the biggest of them all. Tom Hanks stars as a 12-year-old boy enlarged to man size after making a wish on a magical boardwalk machine which leads to dancing with Robert Loggia and making a near-pedophile out of Elizabeth Perkins. 13 Going on 30 pretty much copies the entire setup with a woman (Jennifer Garner) in the lead role, but swapping sexes still isn’t swapping bodies.

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Dream a Little Dream

Wardrobe malfunction! Of all the movies on this list this will probably be the most contentious in regard to it not being a true body swap. Sure, Corey Feldman technically swaps places with Jason Robards, but while the old man is now walking around in Feldman’s incredibly awkward body, the teen and the old man’s body are trapped in a dream-like limbo. Meaning the two bodies aren’t existing with new inhabitants at the control. That said, Feldman’s Michael Jackson-inspired dance number, to woo a cheerleader-type no less, is alone worth the price of admission.

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Face/Off

Plastic surgery! The idea of Nicolas Cage and John Travolta swapping faces, just faces, is incredibly ludicrous fun, but in no way, shape, or form does it constitute a body swap. Additionally, their bodies bear zero resemblance to each other, something conveniently ignored once their faces and scalps are surgically exchanged, but did I mention it’s all in the service of good, ludicrous fun? This remains John Woo’s most entertaining Hollywood film, but calling it a body swap movie is as accurate as calling Hard Target his best film with “hard” in the title.

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Pod people! The fact that I have to include this one here is mind-boggling, but it’s appeared on more than a few lazy body swap lists so here we are. For the record this covers the 1956 original, the arguably superior 1978 remake, the under-appreciated 1993 reboot by Abel Ferrara, and the abomination that is 2007’s The Invasion. Hell, toss in The Puppet Masters and The Hidden for good measure because the bottom line remains the same. Aliens taking over a human body does not constitute a body swap. I have to believe that you knew this already.

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Oh Heavenly Dog

Canine reincarnation! The preeminent man-to-dog movie is Fluke starring Matthew Modine and Samuel L. Jackson, but since no one’s seen that classic the default seems to land on this team-up between Chevy Chase and Benji. That doesn’t make it a body swap movie though as evidenced by the fact that Chase isn’t walking around barking and sniffing people’s asses. It’s reincarnation, closer to something like Heaven Can Wait than Freaky Friday, and as far from a body swap movie as Cops and Robbersons is from a comedy.

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Peggy Sue Got Married

Nasally-voiced weirdness! This Francis Ford Coppola-directed comedy is a bit of an oddity in the realm of non-body swap movies. At first glance it’s pretty much the same setup as 17 Again with its older protagonist who magically ends up returning to their youth, but instead of simply becoming young Kathleen Turner’s character actually wakes up 25 years in the past with Turner playing her own teenage self. There’s no swap of any kind although Nicolas Cage does appear to have traded his normal voice for one far more memorable.

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Willy/Milly

Gender confusion! Okay, fine. This one doesn’t really make the cut on too many body swap lists, but I couldn’t resist including it here out of respect for the wordplay of its title and the fact that the trailer features a teenage girl reaching into her pants to confirm she’s grown a penis overnight. It goes without saying though that a surprise pecker doesn’t quite count as a body swap.


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