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Film / Switch (1991)

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Switch is a 1991 fantasy comedy film written and directed by Blake Edwards.

Steve Brooks (Perry King), a promiscuous and sexist man, is murdered by his ex-lovers. He is offered acceptance into Heaven... but only if he finds a woman who truly likes him and is sent back among the living in order to accomplish this. However, the Devil (Bruce Payne) suggests a complication to teach Steve a lesson and prevent him from easily seducing a woman into loving him, and turns him into a beautiful blonde woman (Ellen Barkin).

Not to be confused with The Switch, or the 1975 TV series Switch starring Robert Wagner and Eddie Albert.

This film provides examples of:

  • Aesop Enforcer: The Devil, since it's him who got the idea to turn Steve into a woman to teach him a lesson.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Pretty much any man Amanda meets lusts after her.
  • Back from the Dead: Steve Brooks is resurrected with a time limit to find one woman who genuinely likes him. To complicate matters a bit and teach him a lesson, he's turned into a woman.
  • Bar Brawl: A brawl erupts at the bar Amanda and Sheila go to.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Steve/Amanda dies giving birth to her daughter, but her soul earns her access to Heaven. She has now all eternity to decide whether she will be a man or a woman in Heaven.
  • Blessed with Suck: Being a gorgeous blonde woman has its advantages, but when All Men Are Perverts...
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Steve's three exes, Liz, Felicia, and Margo, fit that hair color pattern.
  • The Casanova: Steve Brooks, during his life. He took full advantage of the skill and treated most women he knew like crap.
  • Cassandra Truth: Amanda testifies in court who "she" really is and gets committed to an institution. She's then thrown when Walter visits her there and realizes he still doesn't believe her story.
  • Death by Childbirth: Amanda gives birth, and dies without rational explanation. It was time for her/Steve to go, since someone (the baby) eventually and genuinely liked him/her.
  • Devil in Disguise: The Devil (Bruce Payne) comes on Earth in human form.
  • Died Happily Ever After: In Heaven, Amanda is very much happy to have given birth to a baby and watch her grow.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Just about every man that looks at Amanda.
  • Exact Words: Amanda naturally assumed that when Heaven said she needed to "find a soulmate who loves her," this meant having to romance a woman. It's as she's dying in childbirth that it becomes clear the soul is that of her newborn child, who automatically loves her mother just as Amanda truly loves the life she created, thus earning her a place in Heaven.
  • Frame-Up: Margo Brofman (JoBeth Williams), one of Steve's exes and his killer, leaves the gun with which she killed him in his apartment to frame Amanda for the murder.
  • Gender Bender: On the Devil's advice, God makes Steve return to the world as a woman so that he can't use his Casanova wiles to cheat his way into Heaven.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: What Amanda initially thinks when she and Sheila are doing it, before coming back to Steve's somewhat homophobic point of view.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Walter tells Amanda that the reason he still refuses to believe she's Steve is that the real Steve Brooks wouldn't have hesitated to get rid of his child. Amanda confesses she considered having an abortion, she was even in the doctor's office for it, but then concluded that God might want her to have a baby.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: Walter visits Amanda's grave with their daughter at the end.
  • Honey Trap: Poor Steve who imagined a foursome with his exes, only to get killed by them.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The Devil, asserting his equal claim to Steve's soul, getting God to turn Steve into a woman for the duration of his test. Sure he's only looking out for his own interests, but he is right that Steve probably would have done what he's always done to women or even just written the whole thing off as a bad dream.
  • Karma Houdini: Steve's three ex-lovers get away scot-free.
  • Karmic Transformation: Steve disliked women in general and took avantage of them, only to be transformed into one himself.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Steve did nothing but take advantage of women. Now, he's a woman himself.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Sheila Faxton is certainly not the "butch" type. She both acts quite feminine and wears very stylish, glamorous dresses, while nearly hooking up with Amanda.
  • Loophole Abuse: For once, it's the Devil pointing out a flaw in a plan by Heaven. As he relates, the deal would be for Steve to "find a woman who loves him," but nothing about whether Steve would love the woman back. Thus, the Devil argues, it'll be all too easy for Steve to seduce some poor lady into truly and honestly falling for him when he feels nothing for her and still come out on top of the deal. But if there was a challenge like, say, Steve being a woman instead, then Heaven will know the bond is for real. This then leads to another loophole in the very end as both the Devil and Amanda made the mistake of thinking the "love of a soulmate" had to be a romantic one, not the love a newborn child and mother would share, thus earning Amanda a place in Heaven.
  • Man, I Feel Like a Woman: One of the first things Steve does upon becoming Amanda is feel up his breasts.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Amanda and Walter. Even though Walter is not really a feminine guy, Amanda outmatches him in "manly" behavior, being Steve in the body of a woman.
  • Mood Whiplash: While the movie is mostly comedic in tone, the Devil's visit to Amanda and her death are really not played for laughs.
  • One-Word Title: As a reference to the Gender Bender that underlies the plot.
  • Reincarnated as the Opposite Sex: Steve is killed and returns as a woman.
  • Screaming Birth: Amanda gives birth screaming.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Averted. When Walter still won't believe who Amanda is, she brings up a wild story of Walter and a past girlfriend only Steve would know. Walter brushes it off with "I don't know how you know about that" and still holds that Amanda can't be Steve.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Gender flipped. Amanda dies giving birth and leaves a daughter behind with Walter.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Amanda, naturally. Just put the mind of a manly womanizer into a woman's body, and see what happens. Although she doesn't dress or fashion her hair like a man, she's still very much Steve inside. Still, she's quite happy to wear dresses at all times (even when not at her office job, which requires this), even buying some really expensive ones on Margo's dime.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Amanda takes advantage of this during the bar brawl.
  • Wrongfully Committed: Amanda declaring in court that she's a dead man in a woman's body causes her to be committed. She's next seen after three months in a mental institution.