Exchanging bodies for laughs

Times Staff Writer

The enterprising Casa Nova Films, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing Spanish-language cinema to Los Angeles-area Latino communities through its ¡Viva Tu Cine! series, today opens its third offering since September, “Dame Tu Cuerpo” (Gimme Your Body), at selected theaters.

Casa Nova is striving for a mix of serious and popular films, and “Dame Tu Cuerpo” is a clever mainstream comedy from Mexico. The body-exchange gimmick has been pretty much played out in Hollywood but gets a fresh charge from its south-of-the-border setting. Writer Enrique Renteria, who scored a hit with “Todo el Poder” (All the Power), has written a good-natured and ingenious script of wide appeal, yet through comedy has scored some sly digs at machismo and homophobia. Director Rafael Montero sustains the requisite farcical spirit throughout, drawing winning performances from his three stars.

German (Pedro Alvarez Tostado), a suave advertising executive, is about to marry sultry but sometimes imperious Jacqueline (Luz Maria Zetina), a former model and aspiring fashion designer from a rich, conservative family, and he hopes beforehand to strike a truce between his elegant fiancee and his likably easygoing but also boorish lifelong friend Alex (Rafael Sanchez Navarro), an uninhibited, womanizing soccer coach. Alas, just at the moment German is wishing the two most important people in his life could understand each other, the planets align to create a cosmic explosion, causing Jacqueline and Alex to be trapped in each other’s bodies.

Confusion and consternation swiftly follow with comic results, yet through the mayhem Alex and Jacqueline actually do come to understand each other and even modify each other’s behavior. But will they ever be able to reclaim their own bodies? If not, German ponders whether he should actually consider choosing Alex as a life mate, since Jacqueline’s soul is trapped in his friend’s body. “Dame Tu Cuerpo” is amusing but also provocative and satirical.



‘Dame Tu Cuerpo’

MPAA rating: Unrated

Times guidelines: Adult humor and situations

A Casa Nova Films ¡Viva Tu Cine! presentation. Director Rafael Montero. Screenplay Enrique Renteria. Cinematographers Lohengrin Zapiain, Ernesto Macip. In Spanish with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes.

At selected theaters.