Body-swap movies can be romantic or terrifying, but mostly they are played for laughs. Strictly speaking, a body-swap movie is one where there is an exchange between two people. However, the term is also applied to movies where characters become a different (usually older or younger) version of themselves. They provide actors with the opportunity to play completely against type – and, often, against age or gender.
While there’s usually plenty of wackiness and hi-jinks in body-swap comedies, there are also frequently moments of real tenderness and emotion. The process is, after all, a transformative experience. By inhabiting someone else’s body, the characters, inevitably learn important truths about themselves.
10 The Hot Chick (2002)
Rent On Apple TV
Jessica (Rachel McAdams) in The Hot Chick drew the short straw when it comes to body-swap situations. Usually, characters exchange bodies with someone they know, but Jessica does so with a stranger called Clive, a petty thief played by Rob Schneider.
Jessica struggles to cope living in Clive’s body. Having coasted through life on her beauty and popularity, she has to deal with the harsh reality of no longer being a ‘hot chick.’ It is heart-warming to see how supportive Jessica’s friends are about the situation. Even girls who Jessica has been mean to rally around to help her out. This is a film about female solidarity, even if one of the girls looks like a thirty-something man.
9 Here Comes The Bride (2010)
Rent On Amazon
In this Filipino body-swap comedy, there aren’t just two people swapping bodies, there are five of them. Bride-to-be Stefanie, cut-throat lawyer Percy, timid nanny Madelyn, wealthy Grandpa Bien, and camp beautician Toffee are all shunted into one another’s bodies the night before Stefanie’s wedding.
They can’t return to their bodies until the next eclipse in two years’ time, so they move into Grandpa Bien’s house to take care of one another and the bodies they’re borrowing. It is heartwarming to watch the five characters bond during their two-year wait. While waiting, they watch movies together including The Hot Chick, Big, and Freaky Friday, making it possibly the only body-swap comedy to acknowledge the existence of other body-swap comedies.
8 The Change-Up (2011)
Stream On Peacock & Starz
In The Change-Up, friends Dave (Jason Bateman) and Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) have to navigate life in one another’s bodies when they are switched after urinating in a magic fountain. Dave is a family man with an important job while Mitch is a bachelor who doesn’t take life seriously.
The experience gives Dave and Mitch a new appreciation of their own and each other’s lives. By the end of the movie, Mitch is now ready to take on a serious relationship, and Dave has learned to relax a bit more. The loveliest moment of the film is when Dave, finally back in his own body, is reunited with his children. The character’s love for his son and daughters is evident and heartwarming.
7 It’s A Boy Girl Thing (2006)
Stream On Hoopla, IMDb, Vudu & Tubi TV
Neighbors Woody (Kevin Zegers) and Nell (Samaire Armstrong) have nothing in common. Nell is shy and bookish, while Woody only cares about sports and having a good time. They dislike each other immensely and are horrified when an argument in front of a statue of an Aztec god leads to them swapping bodies.
The pair start off trying to sabotage one another’s lives but realize that they will only get their bodies back if they help each other out. The relationship between Woody and Nell evolves from animosity to grudging acceptance to friendship to love. It’s heartwarming for the audience to watch how the pair learn to truly appreciate one another for who they are.
6 17 Again (2009)
Stream On Peacock
Mike O’Donnell (Matthew Perry) is middle-aged and fed up. His wife has left, and his kids don’t want anything to do with him. So when he is magically transformed back to his 17-year-old self (Zac Efron), he figures he has the opportunity to do it over and get it right this time.
Initially, he just wants to be the popular jock he used to be in High School. However, when he discovers his son is being bullied and his daughter is in a controlling relationship, he finds a way to help. Along the way, Mike discovers that what really matters is his family. 17 Again provides a lot of laughs, but, at its core, it has a truly heartwarming message.
5 Freaky Friday (2003)
Stream On Disney+
Being a teenager is hard and being the mother of a teenager is even harder. When 15-year-old Anna (Lindsay Lohan) and her mom Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis) switch bodies, they discover this for themselves. Although, to begin with, both are convinced that the other has an easy life and they could do it better.
After walking a mile in one another’s shoes, Tess and Anna have a newfound respect and admiration for each other. Anna (in her mom’s body) makes a speech at Tess’s rehearsal dinner in which she lays bare her feelings and welcomes her mom’s fiancé into the family. It’s a wonderfully heartwarming moment in a movie that is all about accepting people as they are.
4 All Of Me (1984)
Stream On Roku, IMDb TV, Hoopla, & Tubi TV
Edwina (Lily Tomlin) is dying, and she has arranged to have her soul transferred into another body before she goes. Amazingly, the guru she hired knows what he’s doing, and her spirit is successfully freed. There’s one snag. Due to a mix-up, she ends up in the body of lawyer Roger (Steve Martin) – while he’s still in there.
This is both a hilariously funny movie and a heartwarming one. Roger and Edwina already hated one another and are horrified at having to share a body. But the pair have to work together, and as they get to know each other, a close friendship develops. By the end of the movie, it has blossomed into love.
3 13 Going On 30 (2004)
Stream On HBO Max, Hoopla, & Max Go
2004’s 13 Going On 30 is a movie about being careful what you wish for. Thirteen-year-old Jenna wishes to be “Thirty, flirty and thriving.” She wakes up the following day as an adult (Jennifer Garner) in a swanky apartment with all of her teenage dreams come true.
Although she has a cool job and designer handbags, there’s one thing that adult Jenna hasn’t got. And that’s her childhood best friend Matt (Mark Ruffalo), who, in this reality, she lost touch with seventeen years ago. Watching adult Jenna and adult Matt rekindle their childhood friendship is the most heartwarming aspect of this movie. It’s a wonderfully executed reminder not to let the things that are important to us fall away.
2 Your Name (2016)
Rent On Vudu
Two teenagers – a boy called Taki and a girl called Mitsuha – intermittently swap bodies with one another in this film. While this is not really a comedy (although it has some funny moments), it’s undeniably a heartwarming body-swap movie.
This is a story of love, memory, and loss. Taki and Mitsuha grow close to one another due to their shared experiences even though they are separated by more than just geographical distance. There are plenty of heartwarming – and heartbreaking – moments here, particularly when Taki learns the truth about Mitsuha’s village and tries to do the right thing. At the end of the movie, the scene when both characters simultaneously say the words “Your Name” is a beautiful, emotional moment that audiences will find hard to forget.
1 Big (1988)
Stream On Starz
When 12-year-old Josh gets magically changed into an adult version of himself (Tom Hanks), he has to navigate a whole new world of adult responsibilities. Luckily he has the help of his best friend, Billy. There are many great moments, like the boys celebrating Josh’s first payday with candy and silly string and Josh’s dream apartment complete with a soda machine and trampoline.
And although the relationship between Josh and his adult girlfriend Susan (Elizabeth Perkins) is troubling to modern audiences, their goodbye scene on the deserted pier is a real tearjerker. Big is not only the most heartwarming body-swap comedy; it’s possibly the most heartwarming movie of all time.
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