Like Father, Like Son

April 17, 2012

We’re asked to make a pretty hefty suspension of disbelief in Like Father, Like Son. The high concept of this movie is that somehow a brain transference can be triggered by a drug, and that two people exchange personalities in the process.

Got that? Too bad if you don’t, ’cause the movie never attempts to explain it any more than that. We take it on faith that such a switcheroo could happen, and the way is cleared for the ensuing shenanigans.

This brain thing happens between a respected surgeon (Dudley Moore) and his teen-age son (Kirk Cameron, of TV’s “Growing Pains”). Suddenly, the son (in Dad’s body) is expected to make the rounds of his busy hospital. The doctor, in his son’s frame, has to attend high school (where he effortlessly takes command of the biology lectures).

That’s the concept, and it’s basically repeated until the film contrives an antidote.

It’s all impossible to relate, because when you’re talking about the son, it’s the father, and vice versa. I think. But the funniest ideas revolve around the romantic possibilities: Dad finds himself kissing a high-school girl, while Junior feels his glands percolating to a visit from the lusty wife (Margaret Colin, a funny actress) of a hospital chief of staff (Patrick O’Neal).

The movie, directed by Rod (Teen Wolf) Daniel, doesn’t really attempt anything other than dutifully laying out this series of comic situations. A couple of bits of business have some inspiration, such as Moore’s antics during a hospital staff meeting, when he chokingly lights his “first” cigarette and hocks some chewed gum into an associate’s hair.

Did I say that was the inspired part? Hmm. Ernst Lubitsch and Noel Coward may be turning in their graves. Well, that gives you some idea of the level of the rest of the movie. Actually, although Like Father, Like Son is fundamentally brainless, it’s also pretty painless.

First published in the Herald, October 1987

Yes, part of the personality-change craze of the late 1980s. The only about giving this movie a shrug because it’s not completely terrible is that it wastes Dudley Moore, and wasting Dudley Moore at this point in his career was not something that should have happened.


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