“Swap Me, Baby” is a self-consciously goofy two-handed farce about a mismatched couple about to have a baby.
Their story? He’s “an escort, and the condom broke.”
It’s a stoner “Catastrophe,” for those who remember that Sharon Horgan/Rob Delaney TV series of a few years back — trippier and raunchier if not as sensitive or frankly, as funny.
But for a no-budget “body swap” comedy (“Big,” “Freaky Friday,” etc) made by a German and an American who apparently met making a German TV series, a film so simple that it could’ve been shot during a COVID lockdown, it’s not half bad.
We meet Lily (Kimberly Leemans) and Phillippe (Falk Hentschel) at couples counseling. She’s smart, hyper-organized, if too busy to date. That’s implied because she’s pretty and 30something and she had to hire an escort.
Phillippe, on the other hand, is a porn-stached Frenchman who happily accepts the label “off brand Fabio” as a description. He’s a ditz whose hair is too long, his shorts too short and his attention span nothing to brag about.
Unfiltered red alert warnings from their therapist (Ava Bogle) tell them that their baby has no prayer in this world if they don’t get it — something, anything — together. So Juniper the licensed therapist lets them pick from the solutions provided by this treasure chest (“magic box”) she stores such solutions in. That sends them to this forest “Empathy Getaway.”
Lily has them listening to a “things that can KILL your baby” podcast on the drive up. Phillippe is laid-back, showing off the magic mushrooms he figures they’ll share once they’re “on vacation,” and making plans for Little Phillippe’s future. He could be a musician!
Lily is NOT accepting “Little Phillippe” as a name, and she’s not having the whole music thing.
“You don’wan’ him to be a muuusician, like Broose Springsten or Samuel JackSON?”
Phillippe really works the French accent, and “dumb pretty boy” thing.
They fight until they arrive, fight after they arrive and Phillippe wanders off to be with nature and take his ‘shrooms. And it’s while he’s tripping (distorted images, animated birds and butterflies visit) that the “magic box” makes another appearance, bubbling out of a hot spring. He hasn’t sobered up when Lily shows up, accuses him of stealing the box from the shrink’s office, and sha-ZAM, they’re knocked out wrestling over it.
When they come to, Lily is puzzled to be in a man’s body — Phillippe’s. And Phillippe?
“I always zought ‘aving boobies would be fun. But zey kind of ‘urt!”
The mismatched expectant parents are stuck in each other’s bodies to learn to be better parents. The magic box will spit out clues about things to do. Lily gets this in an instant.
Those are “the riddle in every ‘body swap movie.'” She knows the genre. But as the puzzles and exercises change, her ability to outthink the “riddle” is tested. They’re given a bow and arrow, and a (fake, obviously) rabbit to shoot for food. But even though Phillippe considers himself a manly man — for a Frenchman — being stuck in Lily’s body gives him a big belly and “no upper body strength!”
Lily knows that somehow, they have to work around this and other problems if they’re going to be able to parent this child.
“I should’ve watched the ORIGINAL ‘Freaky Friday! F—–g Lindsay Lohan!”
I got a charge out of the French accent each actor has to attempt once Phillippe is in this body or that one. There’s comical nudity, lots of sexual humor, fart and masturbation jokes that try to get by on “Oh no they didn’t” shock value.
For me, there are more “almost laughs” than actual ones, although the pacing is brisk and the jokes that land zing. The predicted “body swap movie” “lesson learned” sweet moments show up, right on cue, and the picture — giggles or not — just skips by to get to those moments.
But there wasn’t enough funny stuff going on to keep me from getting lost in the novelty of watching the most convincingly pregnant actress I’ve seen on screen wrestle with an “off brand Fabio” out of lust, post-coital munchies, etc.
Was Leemans pregnant when she made this? That big baby bump certainly looks real, and while I can find no news coverage of the co-stars as a couple and having a baby together — neither one is a big name and thus they both live below the gossip sheet headlines — there is this. Well, mazel tov, kids! I think.
It’s a pity “Swap Me, Baby” didn’t dazzle. But no matter how many paying customers see it, you’ve still got something like the ultimate home movie to show your kid, when they’re old enough for (should be) R-rated movies.
Rating: unrated, drug abuse, nudity, profanity
Cast: Falk Hentschel, Kimberly Leemans
Credits: Directed by Caden Butera, scripted by Jesse Lumans. A Scatena and Rosner elease.
Running time: 1:21