The Change-Up

3 Sep

Title: The Change-Up
Year: 
2011
Director: 
David Dobkin
Writers: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Starring: 
Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin
MPAA Rating: 
R, pervasive strong crude sexual content and language, some graphic nudity and drug use
Runtime: 
112 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 
22%

 

When promoting The Change-Up, Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds (two very likable guys) did something I thought was very smart and that actually got me amped up to see the movie, whether it was in promotional appearances on talkshows or in a funny viral video they did, they said something like “Yes, another body swap movie”, rightly acknowledging that there have been too many of those already, but saying that they wouldn’t be making this one if they didn’t had anything new to add to the worn-out formula. They argued that there hadn’t really been an R-rated comedy version of the body swap movie, and I guess they were probably right, and, you know what, considering it came from these two, it got to the point in which I actually kind of wanted to see this film.

If you looked at the pieces this film had assembled, then you could make a pretty solid case for feeling like I did about wanting to see this one. The director was David Dobkin, who hasn’t done a film since 2007’s quite bad Fred Claus, but who’s also the guy responsible for the terrific Wedding Crashers, the writers were Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the guys who wrote The Hangover (and not it’s far less awesome sequel), and the cast had the aforementioned twosome as the leads, and rounded up its supporting players with the likes of the awesome Alan Arkin and Leslie Mann, who’s a huge favorite of mine and should be one of yours, too. So yeah, it may be a body swap movie, but it was coming from the director of the third highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all-time and the writers of the movie that holds the first place in that ranking (the aforementioned far less awesome sequel is the one currently at second place), and it had a cast full of very likable and dependable people, so I think I was well within my rights to be hopeful about this one.

And I may have been well within my rights, but after spending two hours watching this film I discovered I should have listened to my initial gut feeling and not gotten my hopes up, because The Change-Up really had one of those horribly formulaic plots, and yes, there was the R-rated element that was new to these body swap films, but it wasn’t executed the right way at all, there was a lot of crude humor but not one bit of it was smartly done. Instead I got the feeling that it was done pretty much only to be able to call this film an R-rated body swap movie and earn it some sort of differentiation for it. And, sure, it’s actually quite fun at times to see Jason Bateman act like Ryan Reynolds, and vice versa, but those amusing moments are few and far between, and their certainly not enough to carry the film by themselves.

The two guys that swap bodies in this film are Mitch and Dave, two guys who have shared a solid bromance since the third grade but whose lives couldn’t really be any more different. Dave is a dad to three, a workaholic lawyer with a high-strung wife, played by Ms. Mann, that goes well with his own uptight personality. Mitch, on the other hand, is his eternal bachelor best bud, though written a bit too much as a caricature in this film, a guy who’s just way too infantile and who apparently doesn’t realize exactly how some of the stuff he says to women sounds. And that, I think, is a problem that’s evident all over The Change-Up, that it doesn’t realize just how childishly rude it can sometimes get, it’s just horribly obscene and foul-mouthed, at times creepy and pretty much always insulting to our intelligence as an audience. And it’s not like I have something against rude and foul-mouthed humor, I happen to love it actually, it’s just that when it’s used as cheaply as it is here it’s painful to see, it makes you miss that other R-rated comedy with Mr. Bateman from this year, the hilarious Horrible Bosses.

Anyways, Mitch and Dave will one night find themselves drunkenly telling each other about their stupid miseries and wishing they had each others lives. And of course that because they did all of this while pissing into a fountain their wishes will come true when they wake up next morning. And I won’t really get into what they do when they’re in the other guy’s body, because no situation is really specifically worth remembering or all that great, the movie just makes the characters sort of dumb from this point forth, and it’s not really worth your time, though Ms. Mann sure tries her best for it to be. They will try to convince Jamie, the wife, about who they are but that won’t work, and they will be forced to try and live out their situation, and we’ll find out that Mitch deep down always wanted Jamie so he’ll be tempted to go for it while in Dave’s body, and that’s pretty much the most compelling question The Change-Up allows itself to ask. And yes, I know, it’s not really compelling at all. That’s how it all pretty much goes in this film.

Grade: C

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