Blu-ray Review: LIKE FATHER LIKE SON (Retro VHS Edition)

Jan 04 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

On January 12, Mill Creek Entertainment will offer another batch of its Retro VHS releases, bringing several more late 80s/early 90s films to the Blu-ray format for the first time. One of these new releases hitting the HD format for the first time is the 1987 body swap comedy Like Father Like Son, starring Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron as the titular relatives.

Dr. Jack Hammond (Dudley Moore) is a highly-skilled Oxford-educated surgeon. Ever since his wife passed away, he has thrown himself into his work, ignoring any social event invites. He hopes to become the hospital’s next Chief of Staff upon his boss’ (Patrick O’Neal) upcoming retirement. This means keeping all of his relationships at work strictly professional, and passing on invitations to hang out with his interns and other staff after work. As he tries to tow the administration’s party line, he often butts heads with co-worker Dr. Amy Larkin (Catherine Hicks), who is on a crusade to change the hospital’s policy of only treating people who have insurance. Meanwhile, Jack’s teenage son, Chris (Kirk Cameron), is a senior in high school and trying to plan for his future. However, he’s not the best student, especially in Biology class. Chris a track star, though he often clashes with teammate Rick (Micah Grant) due to the fact that Rick’s ex-girlfriend Lori (Camille Cooper) has been showing Chris some attention. Chris’ best friend is the goofy, overly self-confident Clarence (Sean Astin), aka Trigger (“as in Horse, as in Hung like a”).

Trigger’s Uncle Earl (Bill Morrison) is an archaeologist who has been staying with Clarence’s family. He has been recounting wild stories about one of his expeditions where the Navajo gave him a brain transference serum that caused him to swap bodies with one of the tribe members during an operation. Trigger thinks his uncle is crazy, but steals some of the serum to do his own experiment on the Hammond family pets. To Chris and Trigger’s surprise, it actually works! However, shortly afterwards, Jack accidentally drinks some of the serum and ends up swapping bodies with his son. As Trigger desperately tries to track down his uncle in order to find out the cure, Jack and Chris are forced to live one another’s lives.

Jack thinks his son’s life is easy, and enjoys being back in school, but his know-it-all attitude soon gets Chris into trouble. Jack also finds himself having to deal with several major things going on in his son’s life, including a key first date with Lori, the big track meet, and an important interview with Northwestern. Meanwhile, Chris is at first overjoyed by the freedom of being an adult and having his own credit card and an expensive car, but after a night of living it up, he’s called into work, and soon discovers the difficult job his father has. He was trying to lay low, but now worries about messing up his father’s chances of getting his dream job as the new Chief of Staff. However, this body swap may just be what they both needed—Chris to learn a little more responsibility, and Jack to let his hair down and socialize, rather than burying himself in his work.

Growing up, I must have seen Like Father Like Son a couple dozen times. I was so excited to see that Mill Creek was finally bringing this movie to Blu-ray—I have always been a fan of these Freaky Friday-style body swap comedies, and I found this one to be just as enjoyable re-watching it again for the first time decades later. Both actors do an excellent job of playing their role-within-the-role—it really does feel like the characters have swapped bodies. However, it was Dudley Moore’s physical comedy as a teenager trapped in an old man’s body that often had me laughing out loud—whether he’s cluelessly attempting to do hospital rounds, or the especially hilarious scene where he’s at a board meeting trying to smoke and chew gum at the same time. Kirk Cameron also does a nice job of playing the snooty adult trapped in his son’s body. It’s often like watching a trainwreck that you just can’t look away from, such as when a teacher is hit with a giant spitball during class and he asks who did it, and then you see Chris’ hand shoot up to provide that information as Trigger looks on in horror. Any social status that Chris once had before the swap is going to be destroyed by his father! There is also this fun dynamic that forms between Trigger and Chris’ dad (as Chris). Jack knows that he needs Trigger’s help if he’s going to get the cure and/or navigate high school, but Jack finds Trigger to be a bit too much at times. At the same time, as Chris starts to become the outcast at school, Trigger wants to keep his distance from the social pariah. There is also this ongoing joke as the Hammonds’ housekeeper witnesses Jack and Chris’ strange behavior but has no idea what’s truly going on.

Mill Creek’s Blu-ray release provides a pretty solid presentation. The picture is generally quite clean, with some film grain. Despite the odd flecks of dust and dirt that appear here and there, this is probably the best the film has looked in a long time. However, there was a moment early on (at the 3:42 mark) where the picture pixelizes noticeably for a flash of a second (see photo). Fortunately, this was the exception, and I didn’t notice any other defects like this during the rest of the film. As with most of these Retro VHS releases, the audio is only offered in the original stereo format rather than a more modern 5.1 mix. However I never found the sound presentation to be lacking—the dialogue was clear and the soundtrack was pleasant.

Unfortunately, this is a barebones release, and the disc doesn’t include any bonus material or a digital copy. The static main menu only offers the option of watching with or without subtitles. The Blu-ray disc comes packed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase, with a Retro VHS slipcover that makes the release look like a classic VHS rental tape. The details on these slipcovers are really fun, and the design even extends to the spine as well, allowing these discs to displayed like a collection of VHS tapes on the shelf.

What’s Included:

Film: (1:39:31)

  • 1080p / Widescreen 1.85:1
  • Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Subtitles: English SDH


    There is no bonus material included

Final Thoughts:

My Rating

Like Father Like Son is an amusing body swap comedy that still holds up quite well today. Dudley Moore is hilarious and had me laughing out loud several times during the movie. Mill Creek’s Blu-ray presentation looks and sounds quite good, though there was one minor pixelization issue early on. The release doesn’t include any bonus material or digital copy, but does include a fun Retro VHS slipcover. The release comes recommended for any fan of the film, or of these Freaky Friday-like comedies in general. I would say this would make a fun a family film, but there is quite a bit of strong language—which is likely why it is PG-13 and not PG.

Check out Mill Creek’s entire lineup of Retro VHS Blu-ray releases