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The body swap movie is nothing new in film, with one of the earliest being Hal Roach‘s 1940’s comedy Turnabout and then reached its peak in the late 80s with a slew of titles that saw fathers and sons switching bodies, mothers and daughters swapping lives, and of course men and women exchanging naughty bits and learning things aren’t so easy in another pair of shoes. Now it continues with Sam, an independent film that follows in the same footsteps for a new generation.
Enter Sam (Brock Harris), an impossibly good looking modeling agency executive who has it far too easy with women and has since grown untrusting and callous, a misogynist who firmly believes women are good for only one thing and he’s almost tired of that as well. One evening after a bachelor party sees him walking home drunk, he stumbles into a mysterious side-street curiosity shoppe where a kindly older gentleman (Stacy Keach) offers him some warm tea. Naturally, they discuss women, with the Shopkeeper telling a story about one who had a significant part in history, though Sam is still not turned but continues to drink until . . .
Cut to the morning and you can guess what has happened. Sam is now Samantha (Natalie Knepp) and while the exterior is full blown spunky woman, she’s all Sam on the inside. It’s not a pretty picture. Now she/he has to figure out how to carry on in the body of an attractive woman while trying to get his old life back. That includes convincing his best friend Doc (Sean Kleier) that she is who she says she is and that he’s the only one who can help him/her.
Written and directed by Nicholas Brooks, Sam follows a pleasantly predictable path that touches on all the standard plot points bringing Sam along the expected hot spots as he learns all about life as a career woman. That means dealing with a boss who he once looked up to who she now sees as a gropey sexist pig, forced to take lessons from a stylist to learn how to walk and dress, and dealing with girl things like menstruation. All the while, she spends more and more time with the handsome and relationship-troubled Doc, and as two healthy, sexually alert young people who used to be best guy friends, things have an awkward way of igniting some interesting feelings.
Made on a very small budget, but boasting a few recognizable names, including Keach in a cameo and none other than Morgan Fairchild in a substantial role, Sam is an interesting take on the admittedly highly specific genre. There’s some real charm here, mostly from Knepp who absolutely sells it even if the film itself pulls back rather than go all the way in exploring some deeper issues, preferring to put its energies into the superficial sexuality of it all, though to be fair, this is only meant to be a simple romantic comedy.
Sam is not a raucous comedy, even it tries to start that way, but rather a soft, easy to digest tale. It’s weakest parts are its bland editing and poor sound design, including a generic score that becomes repetitive, but beyond these, the simple story works and the characters are likable with Knepp a fun and lively young presence that keeps this fun to watch. No new ground is broken and it doesn’t quite meet its potential, but for some light entertainment, it serves its purpose.
Director: Nicholas Brooks
Writers: Nicholas Brooks
Stars: Natalie Knepp, Sean Kleier, Morgan Fairchild, Brock Harris
Genre: Romance, Comedy