09th Oct2020

‘Switched’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Denise Richards, John Schneider, Madeleine Byrne, Miya Horcher, Vanessa Merrell, Laurine Price, Nicole Weider, Lauren Chavez-Myers, Jenna Marie Hess | Written by Alexandra Boylan, John K.D. Graham, Andrea Polnaszek | Directed by John K.D. Graham

I grew up in the era of the body-swap movie, the 1980s, where a resurgence in the genre led to films like Big, Vice Versa, 18 Again, Like Father Like Son, and my personal favourite (and one of my Top 5 films of all time) Dream a Little Dream. Since then there have been a myriad of such films, be they family friendly like 13 Going on 30 and the Lindsay Lohan-starring Freaky Friday remake; to more raunchy fare like The Change-Up and The Hot Chick… Most have one thing in common: the characters within learn from the situation. Switched is no different, however never have I ever experienced a body swap film like this one.

Switched sees ultra-popular high schooler Katie Sharp (Madeleine Byrne) torment Cassandra Evans (Miya Horcher) after an accident in the school halls – eventually capturing Cassandra’s torture on video, uploading it to social media to a baying audience of 5.4 million viewers. However a nighttime prayer changes everything, switching the duos bodies. As the complexity of their lives play out, each girl learns a lesson in empathy and love, while addressing issues of cyber-bullying and peer pressure.

Yes, it turns out Switched is a faith-based body swap drama, not comedy, that touches on the trials and tribulations of growing up as a teenager in the internet age – complete with peer pressure and social anxiety brought on by social media and the dire need to get those oh-so-important “likes” (FYI I’m being sarcastic). There’s also a nice nod to parental pressure, something I’m SURE is driven by the filmmakers experience of fame…

Speaking of which, Switched comes from Nicole Weider, former model and founder of the faith based website Project Inspired, which mentors teenage girls dealing with issues like those addressed in the film – meaning this is essentially something of a learning tool; and given that the film is NOT marketed as a faith-based film (if it had I’d be honest and say I would’ve instantly skipped the film despite my love of the sub-genre) it’s the kind of film that might actually have a chance at getting a positive message out there. Though there are some clumsily handled faith-based teachings that will undoubtedly be jarring to mainstream audiences. Though the teachings of walking in someone else’s shoes (or do unto others…) is a great lesson for EVERYONE to learn if I’m honest.

What truly helps Switched is the films two leads Madeleine Byrne and Miya Horcher, the pair work well with each other and are perfect foils; their chemistry obvious, which is key to any body swap film. Thankfully the pair also manage to make the most of the heavy-handed morality and, even with the films weak writing, manage to really convey that they have changed as people – mo chemistry, no great central performances, no film. Luckily for Switched, Byrne – and Horcher in particular – hold this film together despite its shortcomings. Kudos to the pair for making the most of what they were given.

Whilst the movie has a worthy goal – to discuss and educate girl’s issues – I can’t help but feel that with a little tweaking to the script and less focus on shoe-horning scripture into the film, Switched could have been a major success. Instead it’s a clumsy morality play that oftentimes feels like its talking down to the very audience to which its aimed.

** 2/5

Switched is out now on DVD, in the US, from Artisan/Lionsgate.


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