Another aspect of these films is precisely how the switch happens. Sometimes the actors merely bump into one another. Other times they get something that serves as a conduit to make the switch happen. Then there’s those times (i.e. Mulholland Drive) where the actors become other people simply because that’s just what makes sense for the story that a particular director is telling.
It is the fantastical nature of these films, the idea that a body switch of comedic (and sometimes tragic) proportions can happen, that truly works in their favor. These movies don’t need to explain too much. They don’t need to depend on the exact nature of science. All they need to do is present a scenario where a body switch can happen, and if the acting and story are entertaining and engaging, generally the film will work overall.
This list does its best to see which body switch films are worth your time, and which ones are ultimately discardable. However, my taste is probably going to skew differently than some of your tastes. So the film that I think is the worst might be the best body switch film you’ve ever seen. To each their own, right? As you will see, this list more than most I have written, is mainly predicated on comparisons.
So sit back and enjoy our list of Body Swap Movies Ranked Best to Worst, which was compiled with a little help from Wikipedia. There’s a lot of gems on this list. There’s also a lot of oddness and films that might not be thought of as very good. As you read, hopefully you recall how much fun you had watching these movies and recalling if you found the body switch premise solid or merely palatable.
Is there a better switcheroo movie than Big? We don’t think so. Josh (David Moscow) wants to be big as he’s tired of being told he can’t do things. So he goes to a carnival and makes a wish using a wish granting machine. Suddenly, Josh becomes big Josh (now played by the great Tom Hanks) and he’s got to navigate the grown up world he so desperately sought to enter. Filled with laughs and physical comedy, Big‘s real heart is the fact that Josh’s ultimate goal is to return home and be with his family. Sure, there’s the classic moment of Hanks and Robert Loggia dancing out the song “Heart and Soul” on a large, electric piano. Or, one could site the awkward, funny scenes of Josh losing his virginity. You could even dissect how much this film recalls Peter Sellers in “Being There,” especially as we see Josh’s rise through the toy company he works for. Whatever your take on this film is, Big is a truly special movie and the cream of the body switch crop.
All of Me (1984)
Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin star in this body switch movie that is nothing if not a 1980s gem. This body switch premise couldn’t have been dreamed up in any other decade but the 1980s. Tomlin plays Edwina Cutwater. She is a dying millionaire who is planning to have her soul put into the body of a younger woman. Well, nothing goes as planned and her soul ends up in the body of her lawyer Roger Cobb (Steve Martin). As you can guess a lot of hijinks ensue especially on the man/woman front. I can recall the moment at the urinal scene like it was yesterday. Roger has just finished peeing and he needs Edwina (because she is now in control of his body) to shake the final pee droplets out of his ding-a-ling. I had never seen anything like this in my life! Sure, All of Me is filled with many other great scenes. However, this movie stands out because of it’s comedic trappings, surefire direction from comedy icon Carl Reiner, and of course the dead on performances from Martin and Tomlin.
Heaven Can Wait (1978)
Having played the Joe Pendleton role in Heaven Can Wait in high school, this body switch movie has a very special place in my heart. That is not why I have it ranked so high on this list here. In this film, Warren Beatty plays a quarterback for the Rams who’s soul is taken from his body a bit too soon. So the angel that made this mistake decides to make things right by putting Pendleton’s soul in the body of a millionaire who was murdered. This is one of those rare body switch movies that doesn’t rely on some non-defined paranormal aspect. Rather it almost turns to the theological to explain how the whole body experience thing happens. This late 1970s film was not seen as one of the great movies from that decade. Rather it was seen as sort of a harbinger of the blockbusters to come from the 1980s. Whatever your feeling about this movie may be, and for the current young generation it might be a body switch film they just can’t relate to, Heaven Can Wait is as solid a body switch film as they come.