• Loren King

With a Little Bit of Magic, An Odd Couple Connects

Take the premises of “Knocked Up,” “Freaky Friday,” and “All of Me,” lather on the broad comedy thickly and add a dose of magic mushrooms, and you get “Swap Me, Baby,” a two-character, gender switch romp.

When we meet Lily (Kimberly Leemans) and Phillippe (Falk Hentschel) they’re consulting with a therapist. Lily is already quite pregnant, the result of her tryst with the French gigolo whom Lily later describes as a “weird alien man child with zero responsibilities.” The shaggy haired Frenchman is a laid back, feel good dude while Lily is a buttoned-down planner who wants the baby’s life mapped out with Phillippe on board. The therapist is at a loss with this mismatched pair so she resorts to a magic box that delivers an “empathy” getaway at a remote cabin.

Once there, the opposites continue to clash — Lily is furiously sticking post-its all over cabin walls while Phillippe escapes to ingest his mushrooms and groove on the animated birds and butterflies. By accident, the sparring couple opens the box. It may seem like a bad trip but it’s not: Lily becomes Phillippe, accent and all, and Phillippe is Lily. The bumbling pair must solve challenges in the form of riddles that pop up from the box if they are to reverse this curse.

Of course, there’s the expected over the top nonsense with these characters and the wacky premise. “Lily” gets a lesson in male masturbation; they attempt sex that turns from awkward to eye-opening; they bond over food. Then something starts to happen: this odd couple shares stories of their own childhoods and they start to connect. The empathy getaway actually triggers empathy even if only for a little while.

Hentschel and Leemans are likable enough to make the slapstick and silliness work even if the film stretches the joke a bit thin. The third act brings a twist that might seem the result of a few too many of Phillippe’s mushrooms, but it’s a welcome surprise with an unexpected dose of heart.

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