Second Nature

In the battle of the sexes, the body swap trope is nothing new. The goal is to force the film’s hero, often male, to walk in the other woman’s shoes. In Second Nature, writer/director Michael Cross takes this trope in a different direction.

Second Nature opens with the mayor of a small rural town dying in a car crash while being “serviced” by his young assistant. A special election is to be held to replace the mayor. During a memorial ceremony for the mayor, womanizer Bret Johnson (Sam Huntington) declares his candidacy. Wanting to see a change in city hall, Bret’s co-worker Amanda (Collette Wolfe) throws her hat in the ring seeing that Bret is far from change.

“Women assume the role of dominance by chasing and harassing men.”

Later that day Amanda confronts Bret during his opening campaign rally at the local Honkers restaurant. During a heated argument in the Honker’s janitors closet, Amanda and Bret grab hold of a strange hand mirror. Thanks to a mysterious and well-timed power surge, our unlikely pair are unknowingly flung into an alternate reality.

In this reality, Amanda and Bret realize they are in an alternate reality where gender roles are flipped. Amanda discovers she has the advantages and privilege men used have in the political arena. Bret learns about the uphill battle he faces being the woman running for office and the power and influence normally given to male candidates.

Instead of making any strong statement about gender equality, Second Nature chooses to go for the laugh. Women assume the role of dominance by chasing and harassing men. Men, in turn, become victims of harassment and act “weak.” Most of the film’s comedy comes from its numerous gender-swapping gags, such as the restaurant “Honkers” is now “Peckers.” Women are yelling out phrases like “I need some dick!” and “Jam out with your clam out!” Since the story surrounds an election, it’s the women who run a corrupt campaign and the men running on real issues.

“…makes some interesting comedic points, but the story is weak on substance and weak on message.”

The films biggest inconsistency comes in the film’s treatment of sexism in politics. While sexism still exists and current events prove it’s still a problem, the world has moved forward ever so slightly. Strides have been made even if you include the current administration. But Second Nature seems to negate these strides and move the state of politics back a decade or two. The world they are trapped in is strictly black and white. Women dominate the men, and the only thing that is swapped in this reality is just the stereotype.

Second Nature makes some interesting comedic points, but the story is weak on substance and weak on message. The film’s final act turns from a political to science fiction film as our heroes go on a search for the magical interdimensional mirror that will bring them home.

Second Nature (2017) Directed by Michael Cross. Written by Michael Cross, JC Ford, and Edi Zanidache. Starring Collette Wolfe and Sam Huntington.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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