GenreComedy, Fantasy Music directorHenry Mancini, Don Grady WriterBlake Edwards LanguageEnglish
Release dateMay 10, 1991 (1991-05-10) CastEllen Barkin (Amanda Brooks), Jimmy Smits (Walter Stone), JoBeth Williams (Margo Brofman), Lorraine Bracco (Sheila Faxton), Tony Roberts (Arnold Freidkin), Perry King (Steve Brooks) Similar moviesHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Alien, Mission: Impossible, Mission: Impossible II, Ice Age, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
TaglineSteve and Walter used to have a preference for blondes. Then Steve was murdered... and came back as one. Will being a woman make him a better man?
Switch is a 1991 comedy film written and directed by Blake Edwards, based on George Axelrod's play Goodbye Charlie (and a 1964 film by the same title). The movie stars Ellen Barkin, Jimmy Smits, JoBeth Williams and Lorraine Bracco.
A promiscuous and rather misogynistic man, Steve (Perry King) is murdered by one of his three ex-lovers, and after death, the powers that be cannot decide whether to send him to heaven or to hell—his life is full of good deeds, but he's "been a shit" to women, and that behavior is keeping him from going to heaven.
The powers that be decide to give him a test; he is reincarnated and given a limited amount of time to have at least one woman like him. To make the test more difficult, he is reincarnated as a beautiful woman (Ellen Barkin), he calls himself Amanda as a joke. After the change, Amanda/Steve encounters other people, and rankles at being treated the way he treated women. Steve's friend Walter, and lesbian perfume magnate Sheila both become attracted to Amanda, but Amanda rebuffs Sheila's advances, despite knowing that she is giving up an opportunity for a woman to love her, even though he had sex exclusively with women, as Steve, in the past.
Later, Amanda and Walter get drunk together and he has sex with her while she is passed out. In the morning, Amanda has no memory of the sex and accuses Walter of raping her. Walter acts surprised and insists that Amanda was an enthusiastic participant. Steve realizes the sort of man that he used to be and the sort of man that Walter is. Amanda rejects Walter, but she learns shortly thereafter that she has become pregnant from the encounter. At the childbirth, the baby girl gazes at her mother with love, and Amanda dies, having earned [his] place in heaven.
Ellen Barkin as Amanda Brooks
Jimmy Smits as Walter Stone
JoBeth Williams as Margo Brofman
Lorraine Bracco as Sheila Faxton
Tony Roberts as Arnold Freidkin
Perry King as Steve Brooks
Bruce Payne as The Devil (as Bruce Martyn Payne)
Lysette Anthony as Liz
Victoria Mahoney as Felicia
Basil Hoffman as Higgins
Catherine Keener as Steve's Secretary
Kevin Kilner as Dan Jones
David Wohl as Attorney Caldwell
James Harper as Lt. Laster
John Lafayette as Sgt. Phillips
Téa Leoni as Connie the Dream Girl
The film received mixed to negative reviews and holds a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It debuted at No. 2 at the box office.
Although not a success at the box office, Ellen Barkin was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role while Bruce Payne was described as a 'delightfully wicked Satan' by Film Review.
This film was indirectly referenced numerous times throughout the long-running series Mystery Science Theater 3000. In the original television spots for the film, Jimmy Smits' name was announced in an unusual way: "Ellen Barkin. Switch. Jimmy Smits. Starts Friday." The writers of MST3K found it amusing that Smits' name was announced after the title and not announced as "also starring Jimmy Smits" or "with Jimmy Smits", only as "Jimmy Smits". Smits became a running gag on the series: in various episodes, a character of the show would say "Jimmy Smits" whenever the word "switch" was uttered or sometimes for seemingly no reason at all.
This motion picture was supposed to have a soundtrack composed and arranged by Henry Mancini, who shares composer credits with Don Grady, but Mancini's score was canned and replaced by a variation, by Paul Young/Clannad of Joni Mitchel's song "Both Sides." Both the unused Mancini score and the pop song soundtrack were produced on CD in 1991, as a result of which two motion picture soundtrack albums exist for this film.
Henry Mancini score
Main Title - Theme from "Switch" - 2:10
Something for Pizzi - 4:00
Amanda and the Devil - 2:25
Seduction - 3:17
Dukes - 3:00
It's All There (Song from "Switch" Instrumental) - 3:22
They Marry - 3:34
Fashion Show - 1:42
End Title - Theme from "Switch" - 4:30
Lyle Lovett - "You Can't Resist It" - 3:05
Ronnie Milsap - "Old Habits Are Hard to Break" - 5:32
Bruce Hornsby and the Range - "Barren Ground" - 4:53
Paul Young/Clannad - "Both Sides, Now" - 5:10
Nathalie Archangel - "So Quiet, So Still" - 4:10
Pretty Boy Floyd - "Slam Dunk" (written by Quiet Riot and later recorded for their album Down to the Bone and rerecord for Alive and Well) - 2:55