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Body Swap

By Alan Ng | September 25, 2020

Where Body Swap suffers is in its overall tone and the general lack of experience on the part of the filmmakers, particularly in the areas that the creatives have control, i.e., story and acting.

Let’s start with tone. For a comedy, the tone and energy are low and, unfortunately, comes off as bland. In comedy, and film in general, the energy level needs to be around a seven (my arbitrary personal scale), but Body Swap flies in at a level three or four. “Energy” is required to keep an audience engaged and awake. Engagement is vital because elaborate story points are being dropped, and audiences can not miss them. It’s also needed in comedy to build up to a punchline and eventual laugh.

How do you fix energy? Primarily through the acting. Everyone in the cast is personable and very likable, but everyone could either use more advanced acting lessons or more experience in front of the camera. Ella Jordan is probably the best actor in the cast. She’s engaging and makes the most of the dialogue and setting. At the same time, Jimmy Kustes could benefit from more lessons.

“…[explores] the implications of falling in love with someone else currently inhabiting your body.”

There are some other creative issues as well, specifically character development. The main problem is between the characters of CJ and Casey. The movie’s conceit is that they are swapping bodies, but if they are too similar to one another, then the swap doesn’t make much of a difference in presentation. It’s not enough to make the two opposite genders with opposing life goals, but personality-wise, they have to be vastly different. Yes, we could argue that this exists, but the problem is they are not diverse enough.

There’s a concept in theater improvisation called “status.” The greater the distance between your leads’ status in character, the greater the drama and comedy. CJ and Casey need to be presented in the beginning as two completely different people not only in gender and social status but in personality as well. These differences need to be vast and extreme. The comedy and drama then come when the body swap occurs as the characters struggle between acting like a completely different person, but then ultimately finding common ground, and love, in their journey together.

Body Swap is not a horrible movie. If you’re a fan of light television comedies, you’ll have a good time. The swapping story itself has a great deal of potential. It just needed a few more rewrites to inject some energy and more reps for the actors to feel comfortable with their roles and character objectives.

Body Swap (2020)

Directed: Timothy Morton

Written: Jimmy Kustes

Starring: Ella Jordan, Jimmy Kustes, Gunner Willis, Kayte Giralt, etc.

Movie score: 5/10

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"…indie films fill the gaps and tell stories that the big studios are no longer willing to consider…"

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