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VICE VERSA. Directed by Brian Gilbert; written and produced for Columbia by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais; Starring Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage. Rated PG (a little mild vulgarity).


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What kid, especially one shorter than average, hasn't day-dreamed about being 6 feet tall? What adult, harrassed by a hectic job, hasn't longed for carefree school-age days?

These universal fantasies are at the heart of Vice Versa.

And while this insures that the whole audience will relate to the story, it also means the movie will contain few surprises. The kid who gets to masquerade as a grown-up will discover that an adult's responsibilities are a high price to pay for his privileges. And the grown-up will realize that being a kid is pretty tough sometimes, too.

In spite of being silly and predictable, Vice Versa is watchable, and even somewhat enjoyable, largely due to the charm and appeal of its two stars. Marshall (Reinhold) and his son Charlie (Savage) are the two guys who get to see how the other half lives in Vice Versa.

Dad is a divorced workaholic who hardly has time for his girlfriend, not to mention his kid. And Charlie is an 11-year-old aspiring rock musician who has little use for school, but who wishes he could see more of his pop.

Savage is the cute little hip kid whose grandfather reads him The Princess Bride. His career is really taking off, with a new T.V. series on the way as well. Reinhold is always an attractive and appealing screen presence, if his comic gifts are somewhat limited. Here he does a pretty good job of acting. The change in his mannerisms, voice and even his walk after switching spirits with Charlie is skillfully handled.

The mumbo-jumbo that gets their bodies mixed up is a silly subplot involving a stolen Tibetan ritual skull that's normally used in the process of reincarnation. But, in a story like this, the mechanism of the body switch isn't important. The ridiculous situations that arise out of it are.

The rest of the cast is unremarkable, even the usually interesting Swoozie Kurtz, as an unscrupulous collectibles dealer who is after the skull.

Vice Versa doesn't have anything new or particularly compelling to say. But fans of its stars will enjoy it.

March 30, 1988

Of course more movies with this theme came out soon after this one. Big is the best of them.

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