August 30, 2012 by bck1402
There’s been this one idea knocking about in my noggin’ for a while now, and I figured that after I let it loose – shared it on Facebook, which only got one comment – it would just, y’know, leave me alone for a while. It was something I figured I wouldn’t be able to work on alone, so no point lingering on it. But it didn’t go away, so allow me to share it here anyway.
Logline: A young couple wake up the morning after their wedding to find that they’ve switched bodies. Without knowing how or why it happened, they decide to tell everyone and live each other’s lives.
That’s the core idea and, yeah, it’s a body swap thing.
There are certain rules, or cliches, that occur in a body swap movie. I’ll acknowledge that not all of them will follow these rules but in general, they’re usually there. First of all, I’m referring to a typical body swap idea where two people change places through some mysterious force. Things like Freaky Friday (mother and daughter, be it the one with Jodie Foster or Gaby Hoffman or Lindsay Lohan) or Vice Versa and Like Father, Like Son (father and son), 18 Again (grandfather and grandson), or more currently, The Change Up (a pair of best friends).
I’m not taking into account some of the others such as All Of Me (more like a possession), Face/Off (more like changing faces than actually body swapping), Avatar (projecting consciousness into a cloned body), or Big, 13 Going on 30 (youngster experiencing adulthood in a grown up body) or 17 Again (adult de-aged to teen).
Often, when the change happens, the pair would usually keep it a secret and then do the best they can given the situation, often with hilarious results of varying degrees, depending on your tastes. On occasion, one or two best friends may be brought in on the secret and they would help out with the situation or be there for moral support. There’s usually some kind of device that triggers the change, and certain matters need to be resolved, usually some lesson to be learnt, before the reverse happens and everyone lives happily ever after.
In writing stories, we either follow the rules – because it brings comfort and we know what everyone likes – or we break them, and try to find something original to bring to the game. So here’s what I had in mind for my idea…
In a quick prologue montage, we learn a little of our young couple, how they met, a few of their habits, whirlwind romance and straight to the wedding. They wake up the morning after their wedding and find that they’ve switched bodies. After they manage to adjust to the shock, they would try and figure out if there was anything that happened to cause this strange event. There’s no rhyme or reason why this happened (at least, I don’t think I need one), so faced with the prospect that they may be stuck this way forever, they decide to tell everyone.
Of course, convincing family members of this switch would be easier said than done, not to mention that if they decide to continue with their lives as if this change is a minor inconvenience, convincing their colleagues would be equally difficult – but fodder for some possible hilarity. So, yes, they would remain at their normal jobs while their friends and colleagues will have to just deal. In between all that, our couple would have to learn about their new bodies, that would include getting used to whole new regimes and maintenance (yes, that includes the whole sex issue as well) which they’d have to teach each other. And to take it further, have her (him) experience pregnancy and then she (in his body) would lament on missing out of the experience.
It’s not completely fleshed out, and all I have are ideas for what goes on, or might go on, within the story. I just don’t have a balanced perspective, hence it’s something I can’t do on my own. Even Nora Ephron had input on the male perspective in writing “When Harry Met Sally…” from the director and producers.
The gender switch concept has happened in some movies before but just rarely in an a US film. There were Prelude to a Kiss, It’s a Boy Girl Thing and more notoriously, The Hot Chick (Rob Schneider switching with Rachel McAdams). And then there was Switch, a 1991 Blake Edwards film where Perry King’s playboy gets killed and he wakes up as Ellen Barkin. I don’t know if that actually counts as a body swap. That one gets weird because he (in her body) ends up falling for his best friend, played by Jimmy Smits, and they have a baby together.
The closest I got to my concept was a Disney film called A Saintly Switch, directed by Peter Bogdanovich in 1999. I never saw that and according to IMDB, it’s a TV movie. Here we have a married couple not doing too well, and their kids cast some spell that causes mom and dad to switch bodies. Of course, they keep it a secret and she (in his body) has to do his job as an NFL quaterback and he (in her body) does her job as a teacher. Cue hilarity and lessons to be learnt as they spend more time with each other trying to teach each other how to do their respective jobs, thus bringing them closer again. And she’s also pregnant.
All I have is a logline, a plot and maybe half a treatment with no real ending aside from the birth of the baby which may or may not effect a reversal. Anyone want to help out on this?
There is one more reference I want to throw in. Most of these body swap movies usually deal with just two people changing places. In an episode of Farscape entitled “Out Of Their Minds” there are two sets of body swaps between three characters that happen – and they switch at least three times each.
In the anime Kokoro Connect, a group of five high school friends – two boys and three girls – find themselves swapping bodies with each other at random for undetermined periods of time. Over the first arc of five episodes, the combination of swapping or mixes varies over a couple of weeks (from what I can gather) perpetrated by a (possibly alien) being as an experiment. Midway through the story, one of the characters poses an interesting philosophical question, asking just how often are we perceived as a person based on our bodies, how we appear, rather than what’s really inside, i.e. the spirit or the soul. By jumping around from body to body, how do you retain who you really are when you don’t even appear to be who you’re supposed to be?
Then again, over the internet, all we have of our personalities is what we present online, broken away from our physical bodies and occasionally inhabiting different ones in the forms of avatars or icons or profile-pictures, some hiding away our true faces.
But that’s another idea for another time.