Let's be honest.
The body-swap comedy isn't exactly an original idea.
It's been done incredibly well in films like Big, Face-Off, All of Me, and the guilty pleasure of 13 Going on 30.
It's been done poorly, incredibly poorly, in other films such as Like Father Like Son, 18 Again!, and Rob Schneider's The Hot Chick.
So, I understand it if your eyes roll just a little bit as you contemplate sitting down with Caden Butera's light-hearted rom-com Swap Me, Baby, a film that makes its intentions known early on as we meet the absurdly French Philippe (Falk Hentschel) and the even more absurdly uptight Lily (Kimberly Leemans) and we learn that Lily is now eight-months pregnant after a one-night fling with this mushroom tripping gigolo with an over-the-top French accent and a devil may care attitude.
I understand it but, I'm telling you, you gotta just go with it.
From mind-tripping animation, I kept thinking of Disney's Enchanted on mushrooms, to one weird and wascally wabbit, Swap Me, Baby is an absurdly goofy rom-com wrapped around two adorably quirky yet essentially good-hearted humans who've built their lives to fit their eccentricities, quirks, and foibles until they suddenly discover that it all doesn't really work anymore.
Jesse Luman's engaging and entertaining script seems to understand that the best body-swap comedies have always been about more than simply swapping bodies. They've been about hopes and dreams, fears and expectations, and somehow resolving the past and moving a little more boldly into an unsure future.
For Philippe and Lily, that future just happens to include a baby.
While Lily is fully prepared for single motherhood, she's still hoping that the seemingly irresponsible Philippe to be included and upon the advice of a therapist head out to an isolated cabin to work out the details of their co-parenting future.
Of course, I think we all know that nothing goes quite as planned.
It's how Swap Me, Baby gets us there that makes it all so much fun.
Let's just say that there's mushroom tripping, animated butterflies, catchy retro-styled pop songs, a few sex jokes, and riddles that must be solved if Philippe and Lily have any hopes of returning to their former selves. Can they both work together to let go of what they've always been in order to become what they were meant to be?
The absolute joy of Swap Me, Baby is joining them on the journey and finding out.
Falk Hentschel is practically the definition of silly but sweet as Philippe, a Fabio-lite gigolo with impossibly good looks and without a lick of common sense to be found anywhere. There's never any doubt that by the end of Swap Me, Baby we're going to learn a whole lot more about our beloved Philippe but it's oh so much fun getting there thanks to Hentschel's free-spirted and fabulous performance and his ability to make us actually care about Philippe along the way.
Straight-laced and quite pregnant, Kimberly Leemans undergoes a hilariously inspired transformation as Lily who becomes Philippe who becomes, well, you'll just have to see it for yourself. Leemans is a complete and utter joy, transforming from straight-laced and highly regimented to spontaneous, free-spirited, and more than a little sexy and unafraid to show it. It's a beautiful performance that could have so easily gone awry but never does.
Both Ava Bogle and Charlie Thiel shine in support. Thiel, in particular, has a few moments toward the film's end that add a layer of emotional honesty to the film and it somehow fits just perfectly.
Swap Me, Baby is both exactly what you expect it to be and quite a bit more. It's a light-hearted rom-com aware of just how silly all this is but absolutely committed to it and it's that commitment that makes this all so incredibly enjoyable from beginning to end. With surprisingly, and refreshingly, healthy attitudes around Lily's impending motherhood and the challenges of pregnancy, Swap Me, Baby is that rare body-swap comedy that manages to entertain without insulting its characters along the way.
Life is a riddle. In fact, it's riddle after riddle after riddle. We can spend our lives in a tightly woven cocoon avoiding all the puzzles and uncertainties or, perhaps, we can choose to start solving the riddles one-by-one and leap into the uncertainties with heart and humor intact. In the end, Swap Me, Baby is a humorous but heartfelt story about two people who begin solving life's riddles together and discover more about themselves and one another and how, maybe just maybe, they were made for this parenting thing after all.
Swap Me, Baby is set for release on all digital platforms on June 14th. No mushrooms required.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic