There are plenty of body swap comedies out there and, let’s face it, they are pretty much the same movie. Two people, who happen to be extremely different, swap places and learn lessons. They get back in their bodies and they all live happily ever after. The end.
From Freaky Friday to The Change Up, the body swap has become as recognisable as the Heist film or the Rom-Com.
Now the brilliant titled South Korean comedy-drama The Dude In Me attempts the storyline in a, frankly, hilarious way.
The Dude in Me, directed by Kang Hyo-jin revolves around sinister business man Jang Pan-soo who shadily conducts his business, Nasty, greed, and selfish, he’d rather intimidate his opponents. However, when nerdy student Kim Dong-hyan falls off a roof and onto Pan-soo, the accident sees them swap bodies. Desperate to get back to his riches and life, Pan-soo needs to learn how to adapt to high-school. But his journey sees him suddenly face to face with a loved one from his past. Suddenly, it becomes about retribution and forgiveness.
The biggest pull to the film is that this film is ridiculous but embraces its absurdity with so much gusto that it is genuinely enjoyable. Whilst it struggles with its two-hour runtime, lagging in places where the joke seems overblown and weights the energy of the film. The Dude in Me is still a hell of a time. Basically whatever it wants to do, it does including fight sequences akin to the most brilliant action films, a training montage that is exhilaratingly edited, and also includes catchy song cues.
The acting is great and everyone is having the best time playing one another. Jung Jun-young has the most work to do playing the cock-sure gangster who inhibits a rotund bullied youngster as well as the shy awkward nerd himself. As Pang-soo as Dong-hyan, Jin-young is fantastic to watch embracing this debonair gang-leader who brings his terrifying confidence and suave charm to a character who was once bullied mercilessly. When the real body of Jang Pang-Soo awakens, Park Sung-woong gets to wonderfully portray the dork. The pair know how to use body language and speech patterns. Dare I say it – the performances are akin to James McAvoy in Split. You just know who is what body, even before they start speaking.
There’s great support fro Ra Mi-ran as Mi-Sun – Pan-soo’s lost love, Lee Soo-min as Dong-hyun’s equally bullied classmate Oh Hyun-jung, and Lee-Junhyeok as Pan-soo’s secondhand man.
A great success with South Korean audiences, The Dude In Me is a fun-filled action comedy that has soul and hilarity. Through stirring films of melancholia and big blockbuster super hero films, it’s great to see a film come to our shores with the power of weirdness and an almighty energy.
Fun fact: The Dude in Me is distributed by a company called Merry Christmas. It has the best title card I’ve ever seen, setting the tone for the whole film.
The Dude In Me screens as part of BFI London Film Festival.
Buy tickets now.