Vice Versa (1988 film)

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Vice Versa
Vice Versa (1988 movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBrian Gilbert
Written byDick Clement
Ian La Frenais
Based onVice Versa
by F. Anstey
Produced byDick Clement
Ian La Frenais
CinematographyKing Baggot
Edited byDavid Garfield
Music byDavid Shire
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • March 11, 1988 (1988-03-11)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$10 million[1]
Box office$13.7 million[2]

Vice Versa is a 1988 American comedy film directed by Brian Gilbert and starring Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage. It is the fourth big screen adaptation of F. Anstey's 1882 novel of the same name, following the British films released in 1916, 1937 and 1948. There was also a 1981 UK television series starring Peter Bowles and Iain Cuthbertson.


In Thailand, a pair of thieves steal an ancient skull from a Buddhist monastery.

Marshall Seymour is Vice President of a Chicago department store, in charge of buying. He is divorced and has an 11-year-old son named Charlie, whom he has little time for. He and his girlfriend, Sam, are on a trip to Thailand to purchase exotic merchandise. At the same time, an art thief named Turk tries to purchase the skull but has to find a way to smuggle it out of the country. He puts it with one of Marshall's purchases, so that he and his accomplice, Lillian Brookmeyer, can make a switch.

When Marshall returns, he takes Charlie for a few days while his mother, Robyn, and stepfather, Cliff, are on vacation. Tensions run high in the family since Charlie can't understand why Marshall can't be more involved in his life. While he is holding the skull, they get into an argument about how they wish they could be in each other's bodies. It is revealed that the skull possesses supernatural magical powers, and after they both express a wish and touch it, Charlie grows up into Marshall's body, and Marshall shrinks into Charlie's body. After the initial shock, they each realize they must live out their lives as each other, and Marshall heads off to school to deal with tests, bullies, and hockey practice, while Charlie assumes his father's role as a Vice President from an 11-year-old's viewpoint.

One night, Charlie goes out with Sam and takes her to see the rock band, Malice, which Marshall had told him he wasn't allowed to go to. The date helps to improve Marshall's relationship with Sam.

Marshall and Charlie go to the museum and talk with Professor Kerschner, who explains the true nature of the skull and wishes to show it to a lama before giving it back to them. Robyn comes home earlier than expected. Not knowing what has transpired, she sees Charlie with a martini and is furious at both him and Marshall.

After failing to get the skull back by asking nicely, the thieves embark on a mission to steal it. Charlie learns from Marshall's boss, Avery, that he has called a meeting to pull the plug on Marshall's business. He picks up Marshall at school and, after purchasing a device that will allow them to communicate with each other, Marshall listens in on the boardroom meeting and instructs Charlie on what to say. However, Turk ends up kidnapping Marshall, leaving Charlie to fend for himself in the boardroom. No longer able to speak eloquently, he stands up and lashes out in Marshall's defense before leaving the meeting.

With Turk and Lillian holding Marshall for ransom, Charlie tries to get the skull back from the lama. During this time, Marshall tries to explain to the thieves that he is not himself, and that he and Charlie have switched bodies because of the skull. Turk seriously considers what Marshall is saying, but Lillian dismisses the story as a ploy. When Charlie finally arrives with the skull, the switch is made and Marshall is returned. However, he and Charlie rush to reacquire the skull so that they can switch themselves back. They manage to catch up with the thieves just after they themselves have accidentally switched bodies, and take the skull back from them, leaving Turk and Lillian in their new bodies as punishment.

The police arrest Charlie for possible kidnapping and Cliff bails him out; Charlie tells him that Robyn is not aware of what happened. Sam shows up and reports that Marshall still has a job, despite Charlie's outburst. He asks Sam to take him home so that he can give Charlie a present. On the way, Charlie proposes to Sam.

Charlie climbs up through his bedroom window and he and Marshall touch the skull, successfully switching back into their own bodies. Marshall then goes to see Sam while Charlie listens in to their conversation about the proposal. Though initially caught off guard, Marshall relents and embraces the proposal Charlie made for him.


Critical and box office reaction[edit]

The film received mixed reviews;[3][4][5] and was given a score of 50% on Rotten Tomatoes from 16 critics.[6] It grossed $13,664,060 in the United States on its theatrical run.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

The film was mentioned in an episode of Clerks: The Animated Series by Randal Graves as attempted bribery of being Dante Hicks' lawyer by telling the "honorable" Judge Reinhold that he [Randal] has seen all of his movies including Zandalee and Vice Versa.

In the Community episode "Basic Human Anatomy", Troy and Abed plan a day of watching Freaky Friday and all other movies with the same basic premise, including Vice Versa, the DVD of which Abed immediately throws away.

The film is referenced in an episode of Difficult People.

The Rooster Teeth card based party game ”Million Dollars, But” references the film in a card included in the 1980s theme pack.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "AFI|Catalog".
  2. ^ a b Vice Versa at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "Vice Versa". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  4. ^ "MOVIE REVIEWS : 'Vice Versa' Does the Father-and-Son Shuffle". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  5. ^ "Review/Film; 'Vice Versa,' A Comedy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  6. ^ Vice Versa at Rotten Tomatoes

External links[edit]