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Monday, October 16, 2017

'Vice Versa' Blu-ray: Judge Reinhold-Fred Savage 'Freaky Friday'-'Big' Mash-up

The Mill Creek Entertainment October 17, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1988 famcom film "Vice Versa" is apt for Halloween in that it illustrates the "Teach Your Children" well lesson that neither parents nor their offspring understand the Hell that is the daily experience of the other. This "Freaky Friday" tale also awesomely channels fellow 1988 film comedy "Big" more than the similarly themed 1987 "Like Father Like Son" with Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron or "18! Again" with George Burns.

A moderate John Hughes vibe enters "Vice" via Marshall Seymour (Judge Reinhold) being both an Executive Vice-President for a large upscale Chicago department store and the divorced father of Chicago-suburb dwelling tween Charlie (Fred Savage). "Vice" director Brian Gilbert further channels Hughes in casting Swoosie Kurtz (recently of "Mike and Molly") as cartoonish villain Tina.

An unhappy Charlie comes to spend time with his dad in the wake of a mix-up placing an enchanted ornamental Tibetan skull in the possession of an especially stressed-out Marshall; antiquities smuggler Tina is the intended recipient of that item, and she comes after it with the standard oafish henchman in tow.

True hilarity begins to ensue when Marshall and Charlie each are holding the skull when they assert that the other has a much easier life than him. This leads to a transformation in which a hulked out Marshall now has the mind of Charlie in him and Charlie is a meat suit for his dad.

The first taste of "Big" comes when Charlie delights in discovering that his adult male body comes complete with fully formed naughty bits. His subsequent adventures in the cut-throat world of big business including rocking out in the music department of the aforementioned retail emporium, experiencing physical aspects (similar to determining who gets on top) of adult romantic relationships, and generally bringing the wisdom of a child into a corporate bedroom are straight out of "Big." 

For his part, returning to the 7th grade reminds Marshall of bullies and other unpleasantness associated with the wonder years.

Following the very successful formula of these films, Marshall and Charlie are facing impending deadlines that include an important presentation for Marshall and the date for Charlie to return to the home of the ex-wife (Jane Kaczmarek of "Malcolm in the Middle") of Marshall. Tina losing patience regarding recovering the skull does not help things. 

Stating that the boys obtain a better understanding of each other and end up in their own bodies is not a spoiler; the manner in which that occurs provides a happy ending for audience and characters alike.

Two scenes deserve special notice. Savage (who does well portraying a young boy in the role of an exasperated and bossy executive) sipping a martini while Marshall is inside him is amusing but likely would not fly in 2017. Our leads completely stripping and sitting naked in front of each other to avoid a wardrobe malfunction regarding an attempted switch back is creepy even by 1988 standards and accounting for the characters being father-and-son and Charlie already seeing what his dad is packing. Even putting blankets around themselves would have been a much better choice.

The bigger picture regarding all this is that "Vice" is special nostalgic fun for Gen Xers and provides Millennials a perfect example of the themes and styles of goofy '80s comedies.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Vice" is encouraged to email me; you alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

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