5.8/10
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37 user 15 critic

Vice Versa (1988)

PG | | Comedy, Fantasy | 11 March 1988 (USA)
During an argument, a divorced executive and his 11 year old son casually touch a magical Tibetan skull, releasing a mysterious power that transfers the father's mind to the body of the son and vice versa. Their problems have just begun.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Marshall
... Charlie
... Sam
... Tina
... Robyn
... Turk
... Avery
... Marcie
Beverly Archer ... Mrs. Luttrell
... Larry (as Harry Murphy)
... Brad
... Floyd
... Cliff (as Chip Lucia)
... Dale
Raymond Rosario ... Dooley
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Storyline

On returning from a buying trip abroad for the department store in which he works, Marshall finds he is in possession of a strange ornamental skull. Marshall is divorced and is looking after his son Charlie for a few days. The skull has special powers, and when Marshall and Charlie simultaneously wish they were each others age, father and son exchange bodies. Now Charlie has to go to work, and Marshall to school. Charlie also has to deal with Marshall's girlfriend. If that weren't enough a pair of smugglers are in pursuit of the skull. Written by Rob Hartill

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Just when he was ready for mid-life crisis, something unexpected came up. Puberty. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Fantasy

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

11 March 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Vice Versa  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,050,779, 13 March 1988, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$13,664,060
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie has been released on DVD in a double-feature with the same parent studio's other age swap / body switch movie of the period Like Father Like Son (1987). See more »

Goofs

As the police in the car start to chase Charlie and Marshall on their own police bike, the driver pulls up the CB mic twice to call in for backup. See more »

Quotes

Marshall: [on why he recalled the Thai-swearing Mooses] It didn't seem fair! Kid got a toy and it didn't even work.
See more »

Connections

References Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) See more »

Soundtracks

Crazy in the Night
Written by Mick Zane, Mark Behn and James Neal
Produced by Stacey Heydon
Performed by Malice
See more »

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User Reviews

"Big" meets "Freaky Friday" via "Like Father, Like Son," beating them all out single-handedly!
14 December 2003 | by See all my reviews

"Freaky Friday" was about a girl and her mother who switched bodies and had to cope with the outcome for a brief time period. The girl took the job, the mother took school. The film has been remade at least twice that I can think of off hand, once in 1995 for television with Shelly Long, and again this year with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan.

The formula was put to bad use in 1987's "Like Father, Like Son," which starred Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron as father and son (respectively, of course) who swap places after a freak accident. A year later there was a movie about a father and son who swapped places and tacked work and school. It was called "Vice Versa," and I consider it the greatest of all these films.

What is Hollywood's fascination with swapping parent with child? It almost surely has something to do with cash. But, alas, I do not think that it is the fascination with swapping parent and child as much as just swapping in general. These body swap films were extremely popular during the 80s, but lately we've been seeing a revival of the formula, with Rob Schneider in one of the worst films of 2002, "The Hot Chick," and then the "Freaky Friday" remake.

There are lots of action films released every year. There are lots of comedies and dramas released every year, too. But I think you will be hard pressed to find the majority of those action films all about a guy stranded inside a building being taken over with hostages. I think you will be hard pressed to find the majority of dramas being about Mafia families. It will be even harder to find the character's name in the action film to be John McClane every time around, and every Mafia family's surname to be Corleone.

Basic formulas are used again and again, of course. But there are only so many times you can use the exact same plot, down to every last inch, and expect it to work.

"Vice Versa" does work, thanks to a pretty clever little script and great acting, by both Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage, whose role in "The Princess Bride" proved he good be a sweet little kid, and whose role here proves that he can be a sarcastic 30/40-something alcoholic.

Marshall (Reinhold) is a Chicago businessman who has no time for his 11-year-old son, Charlie (Savage). So when Charlie is sent to spend the weekend with his dad, things don't go so well -- until they make a wish that they could trade places, and an ancient Oriental antique grants their wish.

Marshall works at a big department store in downtown Chicago, host to all types of gadget and toy stores. Charlie, in Marshall's body, goes to work, and Marshall, in Charlie's body, goes to school. They both realize that they both have it tough and, in the end, overcome differences to learn to appreciate them.

Sounds sappy, huh? Sounds by-the-numbers? That's probably because, in a sense, it is. The film is a lot like "Big," released the same year, and a lot like "Freaky Friday," only with different genders in the leading roles. But I believe it's better than both films for a few reasons.

1. Tom Hanks gave a great performance in "Big," but acted more like an 8-year-old than a 13-year-old in a man's body. Fred Savage, as Marshall, not only pulls off the adult role, but Judge Reinhold convincingly portrays a fascinated 11-year-old. Because of this, it's actually a lot more believable and a lot more funny.

2. Charlie, in Marshall's body, does not come up with wonderful ideas for new toys, and does not wow the company chairman with his genius, straightforward designs like Hanks did in "Big." It was not only a convenient plot ploy, but also wholly stupid. "Vice Versa" actually presents a much clearer image of what a child would do in a man's body -- make mistakes, nearly lose his job, go into the department stores and start banging on drums and shooting arrows. (Don't ask.)

This is not only a fun film, but a much more honest film than "Big," which I enjoyed but not nearly quite as much as "Vice Versa." "Big" actually had some sexual amorality in it (13-year-old doing it with 30-year-old, etc.), and despite Tom Hanks' great performance, he did not convince me that he was a 13-year-old inside a man's body, but rather a younger child. All 13-year-olds know what women mean when they say that they want to sleep with them.

"Vice Versa" doesn't resort to typical plot turns. It also has a lot of fun with clean morals, and it came out the same year as "Big," meaning it didn't rip off its success like a lot of movies did thereafter. This is an honest family film as straightforward as Charlie is in Marshall's body. And though it may be copying old formulas in a lot of ways, in my own humble opinion, it succeeds far past the others.

4/5 stars.

  • John Ulmer


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