- Movie Rating -

Like Father Like Son (1987)

| October 2, 1987

Like Father Like Son is the kind of bad comedy that gives you a headache.  It’s so stupid and so ill-conceived that you just know that it was put together by a committee of analysts, those people with charts and graphs who only know how to put together a movie at the marketing level.  Stuck in the middle are a comedy legend and a popular sitcom star who put their names at risk.

The premise is bought and sold at the base level but is never thought out: A father and son switch minds and occupy each other’s bodies.  Nothing funny comes of this because it isn’t mined for any kind of possibility.  It shoots for the obvious jokes about drunkenness and getting a date with the prettiest girl in school.  

Dudley Moore plays a well-respected surgeon and Cameron plays his son who is a high school student.  Things kick off when Moor puts a “mind transference” potion into his Bloody Mary and suddenly he finds that he and his son have switched minds.  Each is inside the other’s body.  The comic possiblity for the actors, of course, is that we imagine that Cameron would be required to act and talk like Moore and vice versa.  But this movie isn’t that clever. 

Neither is the movie very smart about it’s own starting point.  Why didn’t they just have Cameron take the potion and switch back?  Because if they did then the movie would be over and none of this would be necessary.  Why not a revenge fantasy?  Why not have Moore basically hijack Cameron’s body so that he can relive his youth with pretty girls and have Cameron hijack Moore’s body so he can go on a spending spree with his credit cards?  Why not turn this into really dark comedy that could draw some human value?  Something!  Anything!

There are a lot of things wrong with this movie, but the one that is the most painful is that the screenwriters have no desire to leaven this material beyond just base sitcom gags.  Cameron plays the adult role as an old fogey – something that we know Moore is not.  When he goes to the high school dance he begins griping about the music.  Meanwhile Moore is seduced by a girl on a sofa and doesn’t want it despite the fact that his body is occupied by a teenage boy who would find this to be a grand adventure.  The comic payoff – the couch is set on fire.  Ulk!

Even worse: Cameron occupying his father’s mind, discovers the problem with the potion when he feeds it to the cat and the cat then switches minds with the dog.  Okay, there’s a possibility?  Why not really go places with this idea of the potion.  Why not multiple people who get infected with it.  The possibilities are endless.

But no, the analysts who put this movie together don’t care about the audience.  They don’t care what you see.  You’re in the door, they’ve got your money.  Screw you.  That goes for the adults who see the movie hoping to get the Dudley Moore magic that they saw in Arthur and 10.  What they get is Moore spending most of the movie whining.  For the kids, they will go to see Cameron who spends nearly the entire movie screaming and complaining like a grouchy old man.  After watching this movie, I can relate.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1987) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy