The Change-Up (2011) / Comedy-Fantasy
MPAA rated R for pervasive strong crude sexual content and language, some graphic nudity and drug use
Running time: 112 min. (118 min. for the unrated version)
Cast: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, Sydney Rouviere, Luke Bain, Lauren Bain, Craig Bierko
Director: David Dobkin
Screenplay: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Review published January 15, 2012
Body-swap comedies are fairly predictable, and yet, if the comedians are gifted and the situations inspired, a winning comedy can still be made from the oft-used premise. The only thing that sets it apart from prior attempts is the fact that this is a raunchy R-rated vehicle meant for those who want lots of sex and potty humor in their comedies at all times.
Set in Atlanta, Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses, Up in the Air) stars as Dave, a fast-rising lawyer, workaholic husband and father of three young kids. Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal, Definitely Maybe) co-stars as best friend Mitch, the foul-mouthed swinging bachelor aspiring actor who never bothered doing anything close to responsible, spending the bulk of his time getting high, bar-hopping, and bedding whatever women he can find. Lifelong friends, each man wishes they could have the other's life, and on one fateful evening when both men simultaneously urinate in a public park's fountain, they are granted their wish, waking up in the morning in the other man's body. They realize what a grave mistake they've made and they head back to the park only to find that the fountain has been moved and the city is unsure of the current whereabouts. While both men anxiously try to find a way to reverse the spell, they must live each other's lives as best they can, though both find themselves completely unprepared for the trials and tribulations ahead.
Starting off with a baby projectile pooping into his father's mouth, this is a film that pushes the envelope of bad taste in an attempt to go for the easy big laugh, but most of the time, it will just have viewers looking away, gagging, and/or uttering to themselves, "I didn't need to see that!" Shots and sounds of defecation, a soft-core porn shoot that gets a little too graphic for one character, and babies on the verge of hurting themselves though a lack of adequate supervision are the kinds of things the makers of rather lazy and mostly moronic vehicle have on the agenda in terms of humor. CGI abounds, much of it very obvious, from the borderline abusive behavior daddy dishes out to the kids, to a number of shots of bare breasts that have a digitally airbrushed look (if they aren't purely digitized altogether).
The leads are as good as can be expected given the weak material, and they're the film's only real selling point for their unabashed fans. The film strives for redemption for its characters, and a touch of human emotion washes ashore, possible too far for a film that aims so low to truly carry off with any sense of honesty. The end of these sorts of comedies is that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, and you end up wanting to be exactly the person you are. It would be nice if a new twist were thrown in whereby one party refuses to give up his newly assumed identity, but I suppose that might take more of an effort to "change things up" than the lazy, single-minded makers of The Change-up can muster.
©2012 Vince Leo