Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. OMG! Not another body-switch movie!? And yes, normally you’d be right, but this movie is brought to us by the good people that gave the world the hilariously twisted Happy Death Day movies, so how bad could it be, right?
As all good slasher movies begin, we start with a quartet of teenage murders done by a deranged serial killer (Vince Vaughn) known as the Blissfield Butcher who, rumor has it, stalks teens only during Homecoming. Like Jason Voorhees, he likes to wear a similar mask and use whatever weapon he can find around him. Meanwhile, at Blissfield High, troubled teenager Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) gets bullied at school, but thankfully has two best friends, plucky Nyla (Celeste O’Conner) and overtly gay Josh (Misha Osherovich), to help her cope.
One late night after a school game, Millie is attacked by the Butcher, but the maniac uses a stolen glowing Inca dagger that (surprise!) makes them switch bodies! Uh-oh! Millie wakes up at home with her caring mother (Katie Finneran) and police officer sister (Kelly Wilson), but with the Butcher’s thirst for blood. The Butcher (with Millie’s mind) wakes up in an abandoned mill and decides to contact her friends at school, but his face is plastered everywhere on TV. Naturally, both the Butcher and Millie show up at Blissfield High and psychopathic Millie starts a body count for people that just piss her off, like the school mean girl (Melissa Collazo) and the nasty shop teacher (Alan Ruck).
Once the Butcher convinces Josh and Nyla who he/she really is, the race is on to find that dagger again, because (surprise!) the body-switch curse comes with a rather inconvenient 24hr time limit. However, bad-girl Millie is taking advantage of her new looks and form and is making life miserable for her counterpart. There’s chases, gruesome deaths, and not just one, but two endings! One satisfying, the other tacked-on and utterly phony & ridiculous. Ugh!
Watching this movie will give you a strange case of deja vu, as it bears an uncanny resemblance to the Happy Death Day movies. And it should, as the screenplay (with Michael Kennedy) and director are by Christopher Landon, the writer & director of those two hit box office time-loop movies that take place in a similar time and local. I’m guessing that Blissfield High is down the block from Happy Death Day‘s Bayfield College. Kinda-sorta an homage to Scream, Halloween, and others of its kind, this movie strives to be a horror-comedy, but doesn’t quite hit the mark. The horror part is solid and graphic, but clichéd, and the comedy is not broad enough to get the big laughs.
That isn’t to say there aren’t any laughs, Vince Vaughn generates most of the humor with his girl-stuck-in-the-body-of-a-man schtick. Other humor is strained at times, with only some scattershot laughs popping up here and there. The plot-holed-filled, cookie-cutter story is just like The Hot Chick, only with lotsa buckets of blood. Impressive kudos go to Kathryn Newton who pulls double-duty as both the bullied and tormented Millie AND a sinister, blood-thirsty killer with an evil twinkle in her eye. Vaughn is always fun to watch, and Osherovich has a nice comedic moment in act two. Pretty much a throw-away movie that shoulda come out back nearer Halloween.
**Showing at local theaters that are open
The Hot Chick (2002)
Yes, it’s another body-swap movie like the kind you’ve seen a hundred times before, but this had a grown man swapping bodies with a teenage girl. This only only happened once before in the movie, The Hit Girl.
In many body-swap movies, an object usually causes the transformation, like a rock, a dagger, a statue, etc. As we see in a brief prologue, a magic pair of earrings from 50 B.C. is used this time to swap bodies. Fast-forward to today and we meet a typical roster of vain, selfish, and ditzy teenage girls/cheerleaders. They are: team leader and “hot chick” Jessica Spencer (Rachel McAdams), April (Anna Faris), Keecia “ling-ling” (Maritza Murray), and Lulu (Alexandra Holden). While visiting the local mall, Jessica and her crew and find the earrings in an African-themed store. (Look for Adam Sandler in a strange cameo as a Jamaican stock boy) The earrings are not for sale, so Jessica steals them.
Meanwhile, a neurotic small-time criminal named Clive (Rob Scheider) is robbing a gas station when Jessica and her friends stop there. Thinking he’s an employee, Jessica berates him and leaves, but accidentally drops one of the magical earrings, causing Clive to pick it up. That evening, Jessica and Clive put on the earrings and boom! They each wake up the next morning, having swapped each other’s bodies! This is especially traumatic for Jessica (now inside Clive’s body), who has a cheerleading competition and a school prom coming up!
After Jessica convinces her friends who she really is, they help her investigate the body swap. They get new friends Hildenburg (Megan Kuhlmann) and Eden (Sam Doumit) to join Jessica in their investigation. Eden locates the African store who sold the earrings and the shopkeeper explains how they must find the other earring for the swap back to happen. Anyway, back at Jessica’s home, Jessica (who looks like Clive) works as a Mexican gardener, while her parents open up about their marital problems to him. Awkward! At school, while cleaning the boys’ locker room as a custodian, Jessica/Clive spies on her loving boyfriend, Billy (Matthew Lawrence), and April’s boyfriend, Jake (Eric Christian Olsen), who is cheating on her.
Hildenburg tracks down Clive (who looks like Jessica) who’s working as a pole dancer and tells Jessica. When they all find Clive, Jessica steals back the single earring and puts it on herself. With the two earrings back on the same person, Jessica’s and Clive’s bodies switch back to their original owners. Everyone ends up with their respected dates and Clive runs from the law (still dressed in lingerie), but is abducted by a bartender who believes he’s gay! Long story.
With a wild ‘n’ crazy story by Schneider and director Tom Brady (The Animal, Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star), this movie relies mostly on two things, outrageous & slapstick stuntwork and way over-the-top acting. I mean, everyone in this movie is seriously chewing enough scenery to take down an entire city block. This is especially true of the two major leads, Rob Schneider and Anna Faris. To their credit, they drive this silly, dumb, and totally wacky movie with enough energy and facial mugging to make it all worthwhile. I gotta admit, Schneider made me laugh with some of his Jerry Lewis-type shenanigans, while Faris is just a bundle of cuteness and cluelessness that you can’t take your eyes off of her.
While this movie won’t win any awards for scriptwriting, it does have Rachel McAdams giving some very nice moments as the raunchy Clive and, what can only be described as creepily-eerie, there’s a scene where Jessica’s mom is reading a Scientific American magazine with a cover showing a Covid-19 like-molecule and the words, The New Germ Threat To Plague The World. And this was back in 2002! Prophetic, huh?