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Opposite Day
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by Jack Sommersby

"Enjoyable for Children; Bearable for Adults."
3 stars

Budgeted for just $1 million and sporadically released, it probably deserved a better box-office fate than it got.

One wouldn’t think a G-rated children’s movie co-starring that most acquired of tastes Pauly Shore could possibly be recommendable, but such is indeed the case with the inconsequential but amiable Opposite Day. Set in the serene California city of Fairfield that has both tall office buildings and a quaint downtown square right out of the 1950s (the production was shot in Santa Clarita, forty miles north of Los Angeles), the story involves an experiment gone awry at the Cuddledyne research lab that specializes in baby-related products. The lead scientist thinks he’s invented something revolutionary -- a device that will allow parents to communicate with their newborns through baby-talk; but the initial demonstration of it is a disaster, with an adult briefcase-carrying chimpanzee coming out of the test chamber with a diaper on and regressing back to its child-like state. And then things get even weirder when a freak explosion in the lab causes a massive blue cloud of mist to encompass the entire community right after the movie’s ten-year-old hero, Sammy (Billy Unger), who’s away in a remote cabin with his younger sister and grandparents at the time, has wished upon the Morning Star that kids could rule the world. When Sammy returns a couple of days later, he’s shocked to see pint-sized people working as firemen, school crossing guards, postal workers and even a courthouse judge, with a shrimp of a police officer pulling his grandparents over for running a stop sign and throwing them in jail; when he goes back to his house, his parents (the father played by Shore) have toilet-papered the interior and are acting as adolescent as a five-year-old given his first fire engine, with the rest of the adult-sized citizenry skipping rope, downing countless sweets at the neighborhood soda fountain, and going agog at the local water park. The children are thinking like adults, and vice versa. At a mere eighty-one minutes, Opposite Day is obviously derivative of all those body-switch tales that originated with Disney’s 1976 Freaky Friday and continued forth with an array of similar fare in the late-eighties (the Tom Hanks Big being the most notable of the lot), and it elicits a fair amount of entertainment value. I was perplexed by the villain of the piece, the adult-in-the-child's-body scientist, whose scheme involves affixing rocket packs to birds to spread the contaminant over the globe (wouldn’t he be looking to reverse the process?), and while the movie thankfully steers clear of cheap toilet humor, you can’t really say the debuting screenwriter Max Botkin has derived the most imaginative situations from his out-there story premise. But the direction by R. Michael Givens (also making his debut) is agile, the situations amusing, and the engaging Unger is the best child actor since About a Boy's Nicholas Hoult. Plus, there’s none other than Pauly Shore completely believable as a straight-laced family man. Talk about unexpected!

Some humorous outtakes during the closing credits are worth watching.

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originally posted: 02/06/15 12:48:20
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  01-Oct-2009 (G)



Directed by
  R. Michael Givens

Written by
  Max Botkin

  Billy Unger
  Ariel Winter
  Pauly Shore
  Colleen Crabtree
  Dick Van Patten

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