Businessman Paul Bultitude is sending his son Dick to a boarding school. While holding a magic stone from India, he wishes that he could be young again. His wish is immediately fulfilled ...
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Businessman Paul Bultitude is sending his son Dick to a boarding school. While holding a magic stone from India, he wishes that he could be young again. His wish is immediately fulfilled and the two change bodies with each other. Mr Bultitude becomes a school boy who smokes cigars and has a very conservative view on child upbringing, while his son Dick becomes a gentleman who spends his time drinking lemonade and arranging children's parties. Written by
Peter Ustinov is a witty literary man. His first love is the theatre, which is a form of literature and he has always tried to bring this love to the cinema. This film is based on a picaresque novel he has made immortal. Its parent-offspring body-swap theme was reprised, pilfered, borrowed and plagiarized in an untold number of similar films (and novels) with titles like "Freaky Friday" (all three versions), "Vice Versa" (1988), "Big" (1988), "18 Again!" (1988), "Like Father Like Son" (1987) and "Dream a Little Dream" (1989). Because of its cast, rhythm and wit, this film owes much to the Ealing comedies and to Powell & Pressburger's "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp". Everyone in it shines and makes the dialogue sound like it was written by Oscar Wilde on marijuana. Even little Petula Clark bravely holds her own opposite Anthony Newley (who also wrote the music), Roger Livesey and James Robertson Justice, whose blustering personality makes this film a true comedy of hypocrisies. The film is full of audacious set pieces that send up the very concept of Britishness and propriety. Its charm is of course untranslatable in any other language. As a screenwriter and filmmaker of intelligence and invention, Ustinov shows he is easily the equal of René Clair and Sacha Guitry. A must-see.
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