Movie Review - The Swap (2016)

by Emily


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Tags: movies 1, tg 1, tgmovie 1, tgtransformation 1, MovieReview 1
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https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5653444/

Country: United States

Language: English

Type of story: Magical Body Swap

Does it show the transformation? This body swap is instantaneous.

Sexuality: No, This is a made-for-TV Disney Channel movie!

Nudity: No, This is a made-for-TV Disney Channel movie!

How I watched it: It was free with Disney+ subscription. (Watch Here)

When I last watched it: January 24, 2023


After watching It’s a Boy Girl Thing,I recalled that The Swap had a similar plot.  While I realize The Swap is a Disney Channel movie, I wanted to see how a movie made 10 years later would handle the magical body & gender swap genre.


My synopsis (spoiler-free):


Disney is no stranger to body swap stories.  They’ve made so many remakes and adaptations of Freaky Friday I can’t keep up.  What IS rare, however, is the gender swap.


Ellie (Peyton List) and Jack (Jacob Bertrand) go to the same school, but they’re only really acquaintances.  In traditional Disney fashion, they have recently lost a parent (Ellie’s dad didn’t die, but he might as well have) and are subsequently attached to their departed parent’s cell phones.  According to Ellie’s mom, such emotional attachment creates a “totem.”  When both teens are at the nurse’s office for various emotional issues, they text each other about how it’s easier being the opposite gender.  And swap. Now it’s a race against time (before Ellie’s cellphone is canceled) to figure out how to swap back.


* * Spoilers ahead * *


OK.  Let me address the elephant in the room first.  Peyton List and Jacob Bertrand? They’re on Cobra Kai together. That’s it, I now claim The Swap is a prequel to Cobra Kai, and thus part of Karate Kid’s Miyagiverse.  I don’t make the rules.


OK, back to The Swap. There are moments during The Swap I’m reminded I’m watching Disney Channel.  Then there are moments I’m like, “This is actually pretty good.”  Like most body swaps, the protagonists are given tasks they need to perform as each other.  Ellie is into… um… Rhythmic Gymnastics, and her… sport… is on the verge of being downgraded to a club. Her BFF, Sassy (Kiana Madeira) has a new BFF, Aspen (Eliana Jones) and has been giving her the cold shoulder. Jack is trying out for the hockey team, and his coach - who is also his dad - is giving him a hard time. So both Jack and Ellie believe they need to save flag twirling and get Jack to make the hockey team in order to swap back. Or at least make their lives better. Which includes Sassy and Jack’s weird family situation and inability to talk to girls.


Remember how I said in It’s a Boy Girl Thing, the characters were walking tropes?  Well not so much here.  Both Jack and Ellie seem well adjusted.  In fact, Sassy has a crush on Jack and asks him out in the beginning of the movie.  Neither teen is an outcast or loser. Although they try to say Ellie is an outcast because she’s having issues with Sassy.  But in no universe is Peyton List an outcast. Jack’s kryptonite is that he can’t talk to girls, despite Sassy coming on to him with clear intentions of dating him. Even then, when you start to examine both characters, you realize they have unique backstories (I use ‘unique’ liberally here, because It’s Disney and they will make sure there’s at least one dead parent in the story).



The Transformation: The transformation itself is denoted by blue and pink auras swapping between bodies. The setup is kinda weird though. Jack is in the nurse’s office for a bloody nose from a bully, and Ellie is in the nurse’s office for… crying?  But anyway.  The nurse doesn’t like hearing them bicker, so she insists they just do like the rest of their generation and text each other. This nurse is just enforcing Gen-Z stereotypes.  So the teens pick up their phones and… text each other.  Without swapping numbers. Anyway they swap immediately in a subversion of the genre that swaps only occur while sleeping. Unlike more adult TG swap movies, they don't feel themselves up (It’s Disney remember), instead they notice their smells and look at each other claiming the other stole their face/body.


It’s a TG body swap, so the movie has to address these teens being in their bodies somehow, so they manage to keep it G by having Jack just keep adding layers to his outfit rather than getting undressed.  For RG, he just put a leotard over the track suit he was wearing. Then he needs to do a woman’s physical, and puts a blindfold over his eyes. At night he put a pink onesie on.  Umm.. I do have questions.  Like why does Ellie own an adult sized onesie? Apparently he does this the entire movie, because when they swap back, Ellie asks what she’s wearing because she notices the layers.


Gender & Sexuality: Since this is Disney there’s really no hard hitting revelations here. Nothing is explored.


They adapt.  At first they’re going through the motions trying to figure out how to swap back.  Eventually, they have to pretend to be each other.  Jack is treated to a spa day with Ellie’s Mom, then goes to a friend’s birthday where he gets to get dolled up. Ellie does lots of exercise with Jack’s family and eventually hangs out with the guys playing video games. Eventually, they need to be each other for their big day.  With the help of one friend, Jack teaches Ellie hockey and Ellie teaches Jack.. umm.. ribbon twirling? (Seriously they should’ve used a different sport here. Cheering, regular gymnastics, or figure skating. Anything but whatever this is.)


It was Ellie who realized that their bodies have muscle memory when she realizes she can push her body to run long distances.  This comes in handy when they teach each other their sports.


The Swap Back: Ellie and Jack teach other Rhythmic Gymnastics and Ice Hockey.  They perform admirably.  I like that Ellie added some gymnastics moves during hockey, and Jack added… something... to RG. In a subversion of the trope, succeeding at Ice Hockey and RG isn’t enough to swap back. They realize they only have 40 minutes left before their swap becomes permanent.  They part.  I LOVED that as they part they call each other by their body’s names as a sense of finality and acceptance.  Apparently the task they needed to do was to confront their trauma caused by their departed parents.  They do this by accident. Jack uses Ellie’s mom to finally tell her goodbye.  Ellie uses Jack’s dad to tell her how her own father hurt her.  Jack realizes this, and they meet up and swap back just in time using the same aura effects as the original swap.


Random Thoughts:

  • I really wanted Ellie to be into Figure Skating instead of… whatever it is she’s doing.  (I’ve been told this isn’t the first time the ribbon sport is featured on Disney..  Which makes sense.  Stop making RG happen Disney!) This way both Ellie and Jack can ice skate.  It would’ve given me cool The Cutting Edge vibes.

  • Both coaches suck.  The RG coach AND Jack’s dad, aka “Coach”.

  • When Jack’s phone breaks, they give him his mom’s old bedazzled phone.  He hates that it’s bedazzled.  Um, phone covers come off, dude.

  • “Coach” makes fun of Shakespeare.  Not cool. I think Shakespeare is a recurring influence in all teen movies.

  • Jack gets a spa day with Ellie’s mom.  All men should try a spa day at least once.

  • I loved that Jack messed with Aspen, during the spa day causing her hair to be multi-colored. She’s one of those alpha bitch types who was annoying all through the movie.

  • Ellie turns the bully, Porter (James Godfrey), into an ally by introducing him to a STEM club. Hello 2010’s!

  • Ellie and Jack swapping and collaborating is actually noticed by the rest of their friends.  Sassy thinks Ellie is trying to steal Jack from her.  Jack’s friends comment how Ellie is hot.

  • At the end, they imply Jack and Devon could be a budding couple, but they had a few missed opportunities having Jack and Devon interact during RG.  They do at least interact at the birthday party and dance together.


What I disliked about it? 

There wasn’t much I disliked.  All of its minor faults were from being a Disney Channel special.   I get why more adult themes weren’t addressed. There were some plot holes I mentioned, but I bet those existed to save room for commercials.  I do wish RG was a different sport.


What I liked about it?  

The emotional beats were well written.  When Ellie pulled out Jack’s mom’s written note that she wanted to be thanked when Jack won the Stanley Cup, I couldn’t help but shed a tear.  Then when Jack realized why Sassy’s friendship meant so much to Ellie, it showed that these two teens are recovering from trauma.  If you haven’t seen it, check it out.  It’s a fun romp.


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Emily

Hi, I'm Emily and I'm writing Gender Transformation Fiction! This site is a place for me to keep all of my stories in one place. I'm also a software developer in the daytime, so this site will also be a proving ground of cool new features that pop into my head. Feel free to message me on Twitter or at my Discord Server! You can also find me on TGStorytime.com and FictionMania.tv.

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marter

I'll have to check it out one day then.
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