The Swap

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Swap Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Predictable body-switching comedy has positive messages.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 10 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

The show intends to entertain rather than to educate, but there are positive messages about self-awareness and communication.

Positive Messages

Both Ellie and Jake wrestle with complicated relationships with family and friends and resort to wishing for an escape rather than dealing directly with the issues. By walking in each other's shoes, they develop new empathy for other people's struggles and use their own experiences to improve each other's situations. Some mean-girl manipulation and meanness exist, as does a difficult family relationship in Jake's house, but both are resolved by story's end. Strong emotions surrounding a parent's death and another's recent departure. Positive family-centric themes and reminders about addressing feelings and honest communication.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A mixed bag at first; Ellie struggles with her helicopter-parent mom who tries to overcompensate for her dad's leaving, and Jake's dad can't relate to his sons because of the recent passing of their mom. There's also a lot of drama surrounding Ellie's best friend, whose head has been turned by a newcomer who's critical of Ellie for her looks and fashion sense. But ultimately everyone involved learns a valuable lesson and emerges better for it.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

A teen flirts with her classmate, but he doesn't return the affection.


The movie is inspired by a book of the same name by Megan Shull.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Swap is inspired by a book of the same name and involves a switch of bodies for teen classmates who lament their personal struggles and wish for a break from them. It's bound to entice kids who like the other work of Disney stars Peyton List and Jacob Bertrand. The content is altogether family-friendly, and strong messages about expressing your emotions and honest communication are present throughout. A character's difficult relationship with his father causes strife but is happily resolved in the end. Expect some mild flirting between teens and angst involving a trio of classmates, one of whom manipulates another's feelings for her longtime best friend. This story offers few surprises, but its themes are solid and excellent for families.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6-year-old Written byaspennoelle November 14, 2020

Not what we were expecting

We read the reviews and picked this movie for our 6 and 8 year old. It wasn’t age appropriate for them at all! There was a lot of harsh name calling and bulling... Continue reading
Adult Written bymeg_nuttt April 15, 2020

Pretty good!

so its like pretty good. it has positive points and views and stuff like that. i really enjoyed it. BUT i dont think kids 6 and below would like it. its not bad... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old November 28, 2016


Has everything your looking for its a good laugh also helpful and great role models
Teen, 16 years old Written byscooter mclufflin November 27, 2020

Not at all like the book

I am not saying that this was a bad movie, it was entertaining...But, if you were looking for the movie version of the inspiring book by Megan Shull, you will b... Continue reading

What's the story?

What starts as an innocent tit for tat over stresses and struggles lands classmates Ellie O'Brien (Peyton List) and Jake Malloy (Jacob Bertrand) in the challenge of their lives after they inexplicably switch bodies in THE SWAP. Now, instead of fighting for the last spot on the varsity hockey roster, Jake must take Ellie's place in a key rhythmic gymnastics meet and figure out how to patch up her friendship with longtime BFF Sassy (Kiana Madeira). Meanwhile Ellie has to brush up on her hockey skills; keep up with Jake's older brothers, Gunner (Callan Porter) and Stryker (Jesse Bostick); and traverse a tricky relationship with Jake's emotionally distant dad (Darrin Rose), who also happens to be his coach. With a gender gap evident, complex family relationships, and some serious pressure to succeed, Ellie and Jake race the clock to set things right in time to return to their own bodies.

Is it any good?

Though not particularly original in concept, this feel-good movie has strong themes about family relationships, emotional honesty, and self-advocacy. Ironically it takes living each other's lives to inspire Ellie and Jake to make the necessary changes in their own, but in both cases the teens learn to project their needs and express their feelings. In so doing, they address some serious concerns such as the loss of a loved one and coping with abandonment issues. This makes for some heavy scenes and tense encounters, always with a positive result.

Kids will like seeing familiar Disney stars List and Bertrand in these new roles, and no matter how many times it's revisited, the body-swapping plot is always a winner. In this case the gender divide just adds to the fun, setting up plenty of scenes in which Ellie and Jake have funny experiences walking a mile in the other gender's shoes. Though it offers few surprises, The Swap is a fun movie the entire family can watch together, but the more serious themes -- and Jake's testy relationship with his father throughout most of the story -- might need some further explanation for younger kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about dealing with difficult emotions, the way Jake and Ellie do in The Swap. Do your kids ever feel overwhelmed by responsibilities or expectations? What outlets do they have for coping with stress?

  • Kids: You can't literally walk in someone else's shoes, but in what ways can you try to experience another person's life? Why is it important to respect others' experiences? On the other hand, what do you have in common with your friends?

  • How do the characters exhibit strong communication? What does doing so do for their relationships? Why is it important to express your feelings rather than keeping them to yourself?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love quirky comedy

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

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