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Brian Gilbert
Judge Reinhold, Fred Savage, Corinne Bohrer, Swoosie Kurtz, Jane Kaczmarek, David Proval, William Prince, Gloria Gifford
Writing Credits:
F. Anstey (novel), Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais

The Comedy For The Kid In All Of Us.

Marshall Seymour (Reinhold, Beverly Hills Cop I, II, and III) , is an Executive Vice President for one of Chicago's most prestigious department stores. He is also a divorced, stressed-out workaholic with little time for his 11-year-old son, Charlie (Savage, Goldmember, TV's The Wonder Years) . But when the two find themselves under the influence of an ill-gotten mystical skull, they become much closer ... mostly due to the fact that their minds have switched bodies! Now a preteen boy is up against backstabbing co-workers, politically dangerous board meetings and a blossoming love affair - while the grown man is forced to contend with grade-school bullies, homework and a surprising scarcity of Evian water in the school cafeteria.

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$13.664 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $19.95
Release Date: 4/27/2004

• Trailers


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Vice Versa (1988)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 29, 2004)

Never let it be said that Hollywood won’t beat a concept to death. 12 years after the original Freaky Friday popularized the concept of the “body-swapping” flick, the studios produced three different movies that featured kids in adult bodies: Big with Tom Hanks, 18 Again with George Burns, and Vice Versa with Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage. And 1988 wasn’t the end of the theme, as we’re getting a new spate of these sorts of flicks. 2003 saw a remake of Freaky Friday, while the current 13 Going on 30 redoes Big.

The latter remains the most artistically successful of the bunch, though the 2003 Friday offers a reasonably fun piece of work. I’ve not seen the original in such a long time that I won’t judge it, and I can’t comment on either 18 Again or 30. Versa does little more than remake Friday with males instead of females and presents a flat and uninspired experience.

After a quick prologue in which we see thieves steal an unusual artifact from a Tibetan locale, we jump to Chicago and meet department store executive Marshall Seymour (Reinhold). A hard-edged workaholic, he doesn’t seem to have time for his 11-year-old son Charlie (Savage). He makes promises he doesn’t fulfill, such as when he misses Charlie’s middle school talent show performance because of work issues.

Marshall takes a business trip to Thailand with his girlfriend/co-worker Sam (Corrine Bohrer). At the same time, we see smuggler Turk (David Proval) get the Tibetan artifact from Kwo (James Hong). When Marshall tries to send back a ceramic work that they’ll sell in mass quantities, it gets traded with the artifact and he gets it. Turk’s boss Lillian Brookmeyer (Swoosie Kurtz) contacts Marshall and will go to make the trade with him.

Marshall’s ex-wife Robyn (Jane Kaczmarek) goes away for a week so Marshall needs to care for Charlie. This doesn’t go well and the two bicker. Eventually the pair wish they could change places as they hold the idol, and they switch bodies. When they come to terms with this, little Marshall goes to school while big Charlie goes to the office against his dad’s orders. Big Charlie has run-in with Lillian since he doesn’t know what she wants, and matters complicate from there. Both guys try to deal with each other’s lives while they also deal with Lillian and Turk.

Theoretically, much hilarity ensues. But that’s only in theory, as Versa offers a relentlessly drab flick. With all the possibilities inherent in the concept, it prefers to explore only the most banal ones. Rather than take a clever look at things and try to approach the dimensions of the experience ala Big, this movie gets into slapstick and obvious goofiness. None of this works, as the flick remains dull and without spark.

The relentlessly predictable nature of the story doesn’t help. Granted, most of these sorts of films take the same approach: the two sides that don’t understand each other learn to appreciate their differing emotions. They grow and come to know better how to deal with each other.

That’s fine, but the way Versa plods along through its themes gets tiresome. I get the impression the filmmakers knew this, so they added the silly subplot with the smugglers. This story doesn’t add anything to the flick and just becomes a tedious distraction at times.

For the most part, the performances don’t help. Actually, Savage does reasonably well as the little Marshall. He brings a fairly solid sense of gravity and personality to the role, though it helps that Reinhold sets up Marshall as a one-dimensional jerk; Savage only needs to be selfish and obnoxious for a while.

On the other hand, Reinhold seems wrong for both parts. He normally presents a naturally likable personality, so it seems hard to take him as a self-centered prick. He appears better suited for big Charlie, but that performance flops as well. He portrays Charlie more as a stoner moron than as a kid, and he never even slightly resembles the character demonstrated by Savage in the early parts of the film.

Vice Versa presents a simple concept and goes nowhere with it. The movie focuses on predictable banalities and fails to deliver any laughs or charm. It’s a dull dud.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus D-

Vice Versa appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The film looked generally presentable but suffered from some problems typical of movies from the era.

Eighties films often displayed a vaguely flat and muddy appearance, and this tendency pervaded Versa. Sharpness usually seemed acceptably crisp and well-defined, though a moderate amount of haziness occurred as well. Nonetheless, this aspect of the image was one of the stronger points, as the movie usually seemed accurately detailed. Moiré effects and jagged edges provided no concerns, but I saw a little edge enhancement through the movie. Print flaws cropped up sporadically throughout the flick. I saw more than a little grain and also some grit and specks. The issues weren’t heavy, but they caused intermittent distractions.

Hues seemed fairly muddy and bland during much of the movie. On some occasions, I thought colors appeared acceptably bright and accurate, usually during exteriors, but these weren’t consistent. Often the hues came across as flat and without much life. Black levels followed suit as they usually seemed drab and light. Shadow detail was somewhat heavy and low-light situations often looked moderately dense. Overall, the image seemed watchable but not much better than that.

Similar comments applied to the movie’s Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack. This mix remained very heavily oriented toward the front spectrum. The forward channels displayed acceptable spread from music and some effects and the audio blended together fairly well. However, it wasn’t an active environment and it presented a pretty restricted image through most of the film. Surround usage seemed very minimal, with mostly only mild music coming from the back during parts of the movie. Throughout the majority of the movie, the rear speakers seemed uninvolved.

Audio quality was decent but fairly bland. Dialogue sounded mildly thin and reedy. However, the speech usually came across as distinct and easily intelligible with no signs of edginess. Effects were clean and decently realistic but they lacked much clarity or force. Music was similarly smooth but without great dynamics; the soundtrack offered modest low end but did not stand out in any way. As a whole, the mix was roughly average; it offered a listenable but uninvolving experience.

When the DVD opens, it presents a few ads. We get clips for Daddy Day Care, Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Groundhog Day. Surprisingly, these don’t appear elsewhere in the package, and we get no trailer for Vice Versa itself.

Yet another variation on the old “body-swapping” concept, Vice Versa presents one of the less interesting examinations of the subject. The movie suffers from some weak performances as well as a lack of life or cleverness. The DVD offers mediocre picture and sound plus almost no extras. Skip this clunker.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.25 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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