We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10. One minute you're a pimple covered teen railing at the injustice of adults, the next you are an adult! Welcome to the improbable world of body switching comedies. Kirk Cameron and Fred Savage failed to launch film careers from such auspicious beginnings, but that hasn't deterred Zac Efron from taking his shot in 17 Again. He's not totally copying his illustrious predecessors, 17 Again is more of a body getting a second chance than parent-and-child-switching-places type film, but the principle's the same. Who doesn't wish they were an adult as a teen? What adult doesn't consider what he or she would do differently if given the chance to be a teen again? And who doesn't love the total wackiness that ensues? That's what I thought. Here are 7 of the best.
7. Vice Versa - Fred Savage was the adorable child star of the late '80s, appearing in classics like the TV show The Wonder Years and films The Princess Bride and The Wizard (more on that when we discuss classic video game movies). This was kind of a low during that patch. Savage plays Charlie, a kid who switches places with his Dad after Marshall (Judge Reinhold) brings home what IMDB refers to as "a mysterious oriental skull." Father and son wish to change lives and end up exchanging bodies. Cue wackiness as Marshall suffers through being a student while Charlie tries to keep Marshall's job and fight off the advances of his girlfriend. Yeah, ew. Of course, in the end, father and son eventually return to their own bodies with a renewed respect for each other. And the movie's over so everyone wins.
6. Like Father, Like Son - On paper this sounds like the same movie as Vice Versa, only with Kirk Cameron and Dudley Moore. Cameron's a laid back teen and Moore's a high strung yuppie doctor with a luxury car. This body switch is facilitated by science, or rather some kind of pseudo science when Dr. Hammond (Moore) accidentally adds some drops of a mind transference serum to his Bloody Mary. Suddenly he's a teen and his son, Charlie (Cameron, er at this point Moore) has to pretend to be a doctor. What sounds like a set up for tragedy devolves into endless wacky jokes. This may be what led the leads in real life to more drinking (Moore) or God (Cameron, yup, that was probably the reason). Once again, everything goes back to normal and the characters end up respecting one another, though they have lost all the audience's respect.
5. 13 Going on 30 - Moving away from the whole switching bodies with a family member scene, Jennifer Garner plays Jenna Rink, a 13-year-old girl who wakes up to find out that she's 30 after an encounter with some magical dust. Instead of freaking out because she's old, she gets totally psyched because she has awesome shoes, gorgeous clothes, a cool apartment and her dream job at a fashion magazine. Of course, she's also best friends with her middle school nemesis, Lucy (Judy Greer), who used to torment her when she was 13. She goes in search of her former best friend, Matt, and finds out he's turned into Mark Ruffalo! Unfortunately, she apparently became a total bitch after befriending Lucy so he hates her now. Despite her awesome life, Jenna realizes that what she really wanted all along was Matt. Garner is great as Jenna, buoyant and childlike and totally adorable. The film is fun and fluffy. Eventually, Jenna goes back to being a 13 year old and stays friends with Matt. The moral is something like hot guys are more important than friends and fancy jobs. I hope you girls out there are listening!
4. Freaky Friday (2003) - Not the original, but the remake starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis as a daughter and mother who switch bodies. This time an enchanted fortune cookie (chalk another one up to pseudo mysticism) causes bickering Anna (Lohan) and Tess Coleman (Curtis) to wake up in the other's body. Both actresses have a field day, Curtis has a blast acting like a teen and bickering with her little brother/son. She's especially funny when she realizes she's "old." Though Lohan's kind of a punchline now, she acts so mature in this film as the controlling Tess in the body of her teen daughter, she's especially funny in her relationships with teen boys. Though this one is a remake of a successful, and not-that-old film, it's entertaining and fun.
3. Big - Tom Hanks really came into his own as a movie star in Big, the story of a boy who gets what he wishes for. Josh Baskin (Hanks) wakes up in his own bed to find he's a grown man. This time, the reason is a night spent wishing to be big on a Zoltar machine at the carnival. Unlike 13 Going on 30, he hasn't traveled through time to live as another temporal version of himself, instead he has grown up literally overnight. He runs away from home and gets a job and apartment in the city. Apparently, no one checks references. Through a series of events involving playing a giant piano at FAO Schwartz, Josh gets an awesome job testing toys all day. But with the fun comes an adult relationship with a co-worker that shows Josh how complicated adulthood can be. Deciding he wants his childhood back, Josh desperately searches for another Zoltar machine. Yes, he goes back to who he was in the end, they all do. Seriously people, don't wish for it if you don't want it.
2. Peggy Sue Got Married - Unlike the previous movies Peggy Sue doesn't want to go back in time, she just does. Peggy (Kathleen Turner) goes to her high school reunion despite being on the verge of divorce from her husband, Charlie (Nicholas Cage), her high school sweetheart. During the reunion she faints and wakes up in 1960, as a senior in high school. Turner is great as a woman thrown back in time, she balks at being treated like a teen girl, expected not to drink or have sex. Cage plays his best wounded romantic as Charlie, who's desperately in love with Peggy Sue and has no idea why she's dropped him so cruelly. Unfortunately, he chose a very weird accent which is distracting and tends to be the first thing people remember when thinking about the movie. Eventually Peggy wakes up in the present but the film suggests it was more than just a dream, that she actually relived a part of her life. No pseudo magical or scientific explanation is given, thank God. This movie really holds up and I'm immediately sucked in when it's on TV.
1. Freaky Friday - 1976 was a big year for Jodie Foster, she appeared in Taxi Driver, Bugsy Malone and Freaky Friday. Foster and Barbara Harris are the daughter/mother duo in the original Disney film. One Friday the 13th, the two wish to change places for just one day. They get their wish. Ellen (Harris) and Annabel Andrews (Foster) can't seem to see eye to eye. In this film, there's a subtext of mothers and daughters pre and post feminism not being able to understand one another and their individual worlds. Ellen has a hard time mastering the work of a modern (in 1976) high schooler and the social demands that go along with it. Meanwhile, Annabel learns how demanding being a mother and housewife can be. She also has the unfortunate and gross position that tends to be an undertone in these movies, of avoiding having sex with her own dad, in her mother's body. It's not overt, but super gross to think about. Despite the dip into possible incest, the movie's pretty light while touching on heavier material. And of course, I learned that Volkswagen Beetles can float, something that has served me well. In the end again, they go back, or well, are about to. And all is well.
There’s the Top 7, now what should be in the Top 10?