Crazy For Change (Locas por el Cambio)

Mexico (2020) Dir. Ihtzi Hurtado

Because of the class divide caused by an imbalance in how wealth is distributed, there is envy among some when they see how the other half live. They wonder what it would be like to live in a world of luxury, even if it was for just one day, but you just know, the well off would hate to live in squalor.

Two women with similar names, Paula (Mariel Molino) and Paulina (Sofía Sisniega) live very different lives – one is a rich girl, the other working class, and have been enemies since school. At a reunion, they run into each other and their feud is reignited. During a fight, something happens when they clasp hands. The next morning, both women wake up in each other’s body!

Paula is distraught to find herself living in tiny cramped flat with Paulina’s husband José (Mauricio Argüelles) and their young sons, whilst Paulina is overjoyed to be in a palatial mansion with a wardrobe to die for, luxury at her finger tips and a personal assistant, Baby (Alejandra Ley) at her beck and call. Paula visits a mystic who tells her both have to learn to appreciate each other’s lives or they’ll never swap back.

I imagine the extremely cynical among you might balk at the legend “Amazon Original” on the poster for this film since the body swap concept is a well-worn one. Crazy For Change might not offer too much in the way of originality but that doesn’t automatically mean it isn’t entertaining either. Actress turned director Ihtzi Hurtado probably wanted to start her career behind the camera with something straightforward rather than trying to overachieve with her debut.

Across the various predecessors to this film, the swapped bodies tend to belong to both adults and children of the same gender (Freaky Friday, Vice Versa), or men and women (Your Name, The Hot Chick). Crazy For Change is a rare occasion where the victims are the same age and the same gender, with the rich/poor dichotomy usually reserved for doppelganger stories instead.

With just 94-minutes to tell her story, Hurtado wastes little time getting into it, starting with the girls at school fighting at school because of Paula’s snooty arrogance towards working class girl Paulina. Jumping forward 15 years and Paulina is a married mum of two, overworked, stressed out, and wanting a better life but always has time for her family.

Meanwhile Paula is a belated Kardashian archetype, a lazy, spoiled glamour puss who has everything, spends half her waking hours taking selfies for Instagram, and treats everyone else like peasants. She is currently engaged to Antonio (José María Torre), Mexico’s fifth richest man – except it is a marriage of convenience; Paula’s father has left her and her equally shallow mother Amelia (Mónica Dionne) with less money than Amelia would like, so Paula marrying into a greater wealth solves everything.

However, Paula still holds a flame for her childhood crush Mau (Juan Pablo Gil) and her being betrothed to Antonio puts the kibosh on them ever being a couple, and Mau can’t put his life on hold any longer. One can see where this is going, and Hurtado is aware of this, forcing her to come up with a fresh slant on the journey that brings about the change in attitude of Paula.

For that, we need to look at how this phenomenon occurred as it wasn’t simply fate or coincidence; however, this does involve a plot twist in the final act that I won’t spoil so do forgive the gingerly approach to this. On the night of the school reunion, Paula’s grandmother Luz (Concepción Márquez) gives her a ring to wear; Luz has a sagacious aura about her so when she says the ring is special, it is wise to take heed. I don’t think the thunderstorm on the night swap was needed though.

Regardless of how hackneyed the premise is, the true measure of its success in keeping the audience invested is how the changeover is handled, and Hurtado seems mindful of this. She doesn’t pretend to reinvent the wheel with this but she does allow her cast to full whack with the reactions whilst staying true to their characters. Paula is aghast at being in such a dowdy body in a grotty flat, whilst Paulina is like a kid in a sweet shop and both are very funny.

You can see the fun both actresses are having in replicating the other’s personality with their own bodies, Mariel Molino more so as she gets the best of both worlds, staying true to Paula’s glam lifestyle whilst depicting Paulina’s down to earth demeanour. Conversely, Sofía Sisniega has to be play a precious snob out of her depth in the “real” world, and the one keenest to return to her own body, though convincing her friends and family this stranger before them is Paula is an uphill battle.

Since this about being in someone else’s shoes, is this about envy of the rich or empathy for the downtrodden? Looking at what each woman has to lose and gain, it is interesting how Hurtado has managed to make the objective of the lesson the same: yes, money is great but it isn’t everything, and it certainly doesn’t buy happiness. In lieu of the brisk pacing of the film, there isn’t room for heavy pontificating about this moral, sparing us the didactic monologue to hammer home a point already succinctly delivered.

This, along with the great performances of the two leads, who are actually better than the other at their characters which makes this so fun, is why we can forgive the paucity of new ideas, and absence of a paradigm shift to this particular concept. If Hurtado is content to make crowd-pleasing comedies and not high art, then Crazy For Change is a nice start.

Derivative fluff it may be but enjoyable derivative fluff. And yes, I did write this review. I think…

Currently available on Amazon Prime