- Body-swap movies offer a unique opportunity for characters to grow and learn, providing a fresh perspective on life.
- The genre attracts big stars like Tom Hanks and Jodie Foster, and has had a lasting impact on cinema throughout the decades.
- From comedies to horror films, body-swap movies offer versatility and entertainment, with standout examples worth watching.
The best body-swap movies prove this specific subgenre is surprisingly prolific. The majority of films require their characters to grow and learn, eventually to become better people. Body-swap movies provide a perfect opportunity for this, as the characters get to literally see through someone else’s eyes, giving them a new perspective. The genre includes films that see two characters change places, as well as films that feature characters transformed into someone else altogether. The genre lends itself well to comedy, with the now-transformed characters finding themselves in strange and unexpected situations. Much like the time loop subgenre of movies, the high-concept nature of the body-swap movie has a lot of versatility.
It has also attracted the biggest stars with the likes of Oscar winners Tom Hanks, Jodie Foster, Nicolas Cage, and Jamie Lee Curtis appearing in body-swap movies. While it is not a type of movie that is seen every day, these types of stories have had a staying power throughout decades of movies. This has allowed the concept to be used in everything from family comedies like Freaky Friday as well as Blumhouse horror movies like Freaky. For any fans of the body-swap movie, there are a number of standout examples worth seeking out.
20 Vice Versa (1988)
The 1980s seemed to be the biggest era for body-swap comedies. This resulted in several of them having a very similar plot, Vice Versa came out one year after the body-swap movie Like Father, Like Son which also focused on a father and son switching places. Though Like Father, Like Son won the race to release first, Vice Versa is the better movie, finding genuine laughs with the gags as well as committed performances from the talented cast which was led by 1980s stars Fred Savage and Judge Reinhold.
19 The Hot Chick (2002)
Rob Schneider stars in this early 2000s movie as a career criminal who accidentally switches bodies with a vain and mean-spirited teenage girl. Although the jokes are dated and many are problematic by modern standards, it’s a decent body switch movie as the young girl learns a lesson in treating her friends, and people in general, better. As with most of Schneider’s movies, The Hot Chick was torn apart by critics and there are some who will find it too juvenile to get any real fun out of. It has a nostalgic early 2000s feel and some funny moments, including enjoyable early performances from Anna Faris and Rachel McAdams as well as an obligatory cameo from Schneider’s buddy, Adam Sandler.
18 The Dude In Me (2019)
Fans might be missing some of the best body-swap movies that come out of other countries like the Korean action comedy The Dude in Me. The movie follows a weak and timid high schooler who switches bodies with a powerful gangster. There is a lot of fun to be had with this shift in dynamics. The gangster suddenly has people looking at this awkward young man with renewed respect and even fear while the young man finds himself terrified within the dangerous crime world. Along with the laughs, the movie delivers some great action sequences that will thrill audiences.
17 The Change-Up (2011)
- Available on Peacock Premium
Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman will finally share the screen properly as Deadpool and Wolverine but the team-up of Reynolds and Jason Bateman should not be overlooked. They play best friends, with Reynolds as a carefree bachelor and Bateman as a stressed family man, who switch places after urinating in a magic fountain. Unlike some body-swap movies that go for the sweet and family-friendly approach, The Change-Up leans into its R-rating with plenty of vulgar and gross-out humor. Having two skilled comedic actors like this leading the high-concept comedy makes it so much fun and Bateman especially seems to be enjoying playing Reynolds’ typical quippy character.
16 17 Again (2009)
17 Again stars Matthew Perry as a middle-aged man transformed into his teenage self after falling into a mystical whirlpool. Zac Efron plays the younger Mike O’Donnell as he attempts to recapture his youth and have fun. Efron shows a lot of his comedic chops in the leading man role which helps make this comedy an entertaining ride. It is especially fun seeing Mike as the new kid in school attempting to be a father figure to his own teenage daughter. It has a throwback quality to the mix of humor and heart of 80s comedies like this.
15 Brother Bear (2003)
A lot of body-swap movies find characters ending up in the bodies of other people. However, there is also a fun subgenre to this that focuses on characters being transported into the bodies of animals. Such is the case with the overlooked Disney movie Brother Bear in which an Inuit hunter kills a bear maliciously and magically finds himself transported into the body of a bear where he joins forces with a young cub to figure out how to change back. The movie features a forgotten Joaquin Phoenix role as the hunter-turned-bear. While it may not reach other Disney heights, it is a beautiful and emotional story.
14 Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)
After the success of the first reboot of the Jumanji franchise, it was not very surprising that a sequel was quickly made with Jumanji: The Next Level. The likes of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan return for the sequel that finds new, fun ways for the characters to switch bodies. While the action set-pieces are wild and entertaining, the best part of the movie is seeing Johnson doing his best impression of Danny DeVito, and the classic Jumanji franchise action is on point throughout. The movie was another box office hit, setting the stage for the franchise to continue.
13 All Of Me (1984)
- Available on The Roku Channel & Tubi
It takes some interesting ideas to keep the body-swap genre feeling fresh and All of Me is one of the most unusual body-swap films the genre has produced. The movie sees a dying millionaire (played by Lily Tomlin) transfer her soul into the body of a lawyer (played by Steve Martin) by mistake. They now both occupy the same body and must fight for control with hilarious results. The physical nature of the comedy featured in the film allows Martin to shine, and he delivers one of his best performances in this supernatural farce.
12 Freaky (2020)
It was only a matter of time before the body-swap genre made its way into a horror movie. Freaky has a lot of fun with its premise of a teen girl who is the intended victim of a brutal killer only for them to switch places. Vince Vaughn gives a wonderful comedic performance playing a teen girl trapped inside the body of a serial killer while new MCU star Kathryn Newton also has fun as the young girl turned murderer. It is a funny and inventive approach with some outrageously gory kills. It marked another big horror movie hit for Blumhouse.
11 Freaky Friday (1976)
The original Freaky Friday from 1976 is still considered the best version by some fans. Freaky Friday has been remade 3 times to mixed results, but the original still has a lot of charm to it with the simple yet effective body-swap story. While the remake saw a fortune cookie cause them to change places, the original opts to have the mother and daughter simply wish for it, and some cutting-edge special effects take it from there. Much like the remake, it is the chemistry between the leads that makes the movie work, including child actor Jodie Foster.
10 Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (2017)
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was one of the biggest surprises when it was released and continued the fondly remembered Jumanji franchise in an unexpected and inventive way. The film features a group of teenagers transformed into video game characters, each with varying skills and appearances. Most notable was Spencer, who was transformed into the hulking Dr. Bravestone, played by Dwayne Johnson. The film provides a careful mix of comedy and action, which saw it become one of the most successful films of the year. Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart continue their excellent chemistry together, Karen Gillan shows off her comedic side, and Jack Black seems to be having a blast playing a teenage girl.
9 Freaky Friday (2003)
2023 Oscar winner Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan star in the hit remake of Freaky Friday managing to find a lot of fun in the retelling. The movie sees the mother and daughter switch places, due to the magic of a mysterious fortune cookie. It’s a fun time that provides plenty of laughs as they attempt to live each other’s lives and gain a newfound appreciation for one another. Curtis reminds everyone that she has incredible comedic skills alongside her dramatic chops while Lindsay Lohan cemented herself as one of the rising stars in Hollywood.
8 Big (1988)
Big might have once been considered the greatest body swap movie ever but some elements make it awkward to revisit. Nevertheless, Big marks a breakout role for Tom Hanks as he plays a child transformed into a middle-aged man, with unexpected results. He quickly finds that his youthful naivety works to his advantage and quickly begins to excel at work, due to his fresh and interesting ideas. In addition to this, he finds success in his personal life, with some problematic results including an implied sex scene between an adult woman and a child in an adult’s body. However, the movie was a huge hit at the time and even scored Hanks a Best Actor Oscar nomination, rare for a comedic role.
7 13 Going On 30 (2004)
The romantic comedy 13 Going on 30 is the kind of body-swap story that doesn’t have two people switching places, but rather one character ending up in a different body. In this case, it is the story of a teenage girl who wakes up as an adult. Jennifer Garner stars in the movie and makes for a charming lead, bringing a lot of youthful energy to the part. The movie is also packed with an incredibly talented supporting cast that includes the likes of Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer, and Andy Serkis. It remains beloved by many fans for its fun energy as well as the sweet rom-com story.
6 Your Name (2016)
- Available to rent on Apple TV
Although many body-swap films offer plenty of laughs and opportunities for their characters, the genre rarely produces legitimately great works. Your Name however elevates the genre like no other film has and offers a complex narrative that begs to be rewatched. Two teenagers dissatisfied with their lives switch places and must work together to not only live with this newfound problem but figure out why it is happening. With an engaging story filled with surprises and twists, in addition to the gorgeous animation of this Japanese movie, Your Name tells a classic body-swap story that explores the characters with more depth than any other film.
5 Soul (2020)
Pixar making a body-swap movie is a fun idea by itself but Soul turned out to be one of the studio’s most heartwarming stories in years. The movie follows Joe, a music teacher and aspiring jazz musician who dies and has his soul ascend to the afterlife only to venture back down with a new soul named 22 in order to recapture his life. It is not until the second half of the movie that it becomes a body-swap story with 22 accidentally entering Joe’s body and Joe becoming a cat which makes for a lot of funny moments. However, Soul is truly memorable for the fun and emotional way the Pixar story discusses the beauty of life and the value of appreciating the little things through the poignant ending of Soul.
4 Face/Off (1997)
Face/Off is a different type of body-swap movie as the movies in the genre are typically more comedic and this one is an action-adventure thriller. John Travolta and Nicolas Cage play a hero and a villain who trade faces. Obviously, the science involved is laughable, but there is a lot that fans need to overlook to enjoy a good body-swap movie. Travolta and Cage also give wonderfully outrageous performances, making Face/Off both the best body-swap movie of all time, and one of the few to achieve it without the use of supernatural or fantasy elements. Once fans are able to get past the ridiculous plot, Face/Off is a nonstop ride of wild trademark John Woo action sequences.
3 Being John Malkovich (1999)
The brilliance of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman brings audiences one of the most unique and outstanding body-swap movies ever made. John Cusack stars in Being John Malkovich as an amateur puppeteer who takes a job at an eccentric business where he finds a portal that allows people to enter the mind of actor John Malkovich. The strange idea is just the beginning of the captivating and hilarious movie that never goes for the goofy storytelling directions and instead embraces the absurdity of its idea. Malkovich is totally willing in a wonderful performance as himself while the movie explores the idea of celebrity, artists, and the search for immortality.
2 Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)
With the explosion of multiverse movies in recent years, it created an opportunity to take the bod-swap genre to another level. Everything Everywhere All at Once not only explored what a person’s life could look like in alternate realities but also what would happen if that person could jump into those different bodies. The body-swap element is just one part of the inventive and brilliant storytelling of the movie yet it also uses the concept in the cleverest ways. Michelle Yeoh’s Evelyn gets to acquire new skills when she jumps into these new bodies while also making her question her choices in life in seeing the other possibilities. It is a truly unique concept that earned Everything Everywhere All at Once a Best Picture win.
1 Get Out (2017)
- Available on Peacock Premium
While Freaky uses the body-swap gimmick to tell a slasher horror, Get Out makes the body-swap itself the horror. Daniel Kaluuya stars in the movie as Chris, a young Black man who goes to visit his girlfriend’s white family and finds that the social awkwardness of the situation is the least of his concerns. As the twist in Get Out is gradually teased by writer-director Jordan Peele, it is revealed white people are having their consciousness transferred into Black bodies. It is a haunting idea that also serves as brilliant social commentary which cemented Get Out as a new horror masterpiece and announced Peele as an exciting filmmaking voice.