Blake Edwards uses a familiar theme in "Switch," does some predictable things and still manages to get a few laughs. Actually, he gets quite a few. You might even say that "Switch" is a return to the old Edwards, the man who turned out movies like "Ten" and "Victor-Victoria."
You'll see some of "Victor-Victoria" in "Switch," but then you'll see a lot of other movies, too.
"Switch" has Perry King play a womanizer, an ad man who is murdered by one of three women he has used. When he gets to that great boudoir in the sky, he is told that he has been a bad boy and that he should be sent straight to hell.
There is, however, an out. He can go back to earth, and if he can find one female who has a good word for him, he will be allowed to go to Heaven. But there is a catch: Steve Brooks, ad executive, becomes Amanda Brooks when he is returned to earth.
That's nice because Amanda is played by Ellen Barkin, who, when she says she is built like an outhouse, is telling the absolute truth.
Barkin has a lot of fun with the role, and we have that much fun watching her. She may go on a bit with the high heels (she staggers through half the movie), but the gag works and continues to work until Barkin and Edwards are through with it.
Jimmy Smits is the co-worker who knew Steve and has a difficult time believing that the well-constructed woman he desires is really his old friend recycled.
Tony Roberts, JoBeth Williams and Lorraine Bracco are also in the cast. Roberts is boss to Steve, then becomes Amanda's boss. He isn't above stealing ideas from others. Williams is one of Steve's victims, the one who does him in, and Bracco is the owner of a cosmetics firm, who comes on to Amanda.
Williams, one of the screen's better actresses, is required to look attractive and no more, but she does have one of the best lines in the film.
"Switch" opens here today. Carole Landis, Lauren Bacall and Debbie Reynolds are some of the actresses who have played men in female bodies, but no one has done any better with this charade than Barkin, who, as Amanda, tires of being hit on by all the men she meets and begins to realize what it is like to be used.
** Steve Brooks, a womanizer who is murdered by one of his victims, can go to Heaven if he returns to earth and finds one female who has something nice to say about him.
CAST: Ellen Barkin, Jimmy Smits, JoBeth Williams, Lorraine Bracco, Tony Roberts
DIRECTOR: Blake Edwards
RATING: R (sex, language, violence)
) RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes