Directed by: David Dobkin
Cast: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde
Running Time: 1 hr 52 mins
Release Date: August 5, 2011
PLOT: A married family man (Bateman) accidentally switches bodies with his single best friend (Reynolds) when they both urinate in a magic fountain. Now they each have to deal with many new situations.
WHO’S IT FOR? It’s very rated R, and it’s very raunchy … more than any other comedy this summer. Keep that in mind. It also has a wide variety of cheap laughs and intelligent ones.
EXPECTATIONS: As a kid, I loved Vice Versa and Like Father, Like Son. A rated R version with Bateman and Reynolds sounded perfect.
Jason Bateman as Dave Lockwood: As Dave, he’s hard working, reserved, and feels like he missed out on an opportunity. When Bateman becomes Mitch, the mouth immediately turns filthy. Watching Bateman as Mitch deal with the wife (Mann) is a lot of fun. Watching him show up to work and crave free snacks, or give terrible parenting advice is a little annoying. It’s up and done. It is great to see Bateman go dirty, but did it have to be this much?
Ryan Reynolds as Mitch Planko: He’s a slacker with father issues, who loves the ladies. When Reynolds becomes Dave, it’s better than Bateman’s transformation because it’s a normal guy in insane situations. Soft core porn isn’t something Dave could deal with, so watching Reynolds squirm is fun and outlandish.
Leslie Mann as Jamie Lockwood: The movie’s tone and purpose seem to be at its best when Mann is involved. She’s feeling neglected as Dave’s wife and that only increases when Mitch becomes Dave. She goes on emotional rants that feel out of place at the time, but when she’s done, you’re on her team and actually feel something for this movie. Also, there are plenty of breasts in the movie, but none more surprising than Mann’s. I actually thought they were photoshopped the first time I saw them.
Alan Arkin as Mitch’s Dad: What is he doing in such a worthless role? Plus, these daddy issues are what exactly? Argh, I didn’t like this distraction, and I normally love Arkin.
TALKING: Reynolds as Dave asks the 5-year-old if she knows how to make a shiv. He’s serious. The character is serious. Man, that line bugs me. F-bombs during a multimillion-dollar business deal also happen. When Mitch is Dave, he sees no problem with this. It’s the sort of thing Zach Galifianakis sometimes gets away with (The Hangover) and sometimes doesn’t (Due Date). Here, it makes you want to throw those moments out. It’s just so stupid in a movie that is otherwise fairly smart with its humor. As I’ve said, it’s also vulgar. “I will eye rape you,” would be considered a standard line.
SIGHTS: Poop goes where it never should. It involves a baby. The sex jokes involve pregnancy, an old porn star, and the kind of three-way that is not good. I didn’t like many of those jokes. However, I did like the changes in mannerisms are nice between Bateman and Reynolds.
SOUNDS: From Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” to Coldplay’s new single, the music is all over the place and has no flow. The musical score doesn’t go the zany route even though the script sometimes does.
BEST SCENE: Once the body switch happens, both characters react appropriately. Even if that means one tries to choke the other to death.
ENDING: Wow, they really go for broke trying to get every emotion possible out of this movie. I was only willing to laugh. Tears weren’t going to happen.
QUESTIONS: If I laughed so much, why do I feel so dirty? Why didn’t this movie stick to realism (of a world where a body switch could happen)?
REWATCHABILITY: Yes, I might tune out at times, but there are easily 45 funny minutes here. Plus, you know the Blu-ray extras will be worth it.
The Change-Up is extreme. Actually, that doesn’t do it justice. It’s EXTREME! Like a monster truck rally. They want you to laugh, squirm and care. Yeah, that caring part is the oddest one. Bateman and Reynolds definitely have their good and bad moments. Mann seems game for the caring with speeches that shockingly work. Arkin on the other hand, is shoved and squeezed into this movie so randomly in the attempt to make us care about Mitch’s character arc that it’s painful.
Whenever the movie has the comedy come from the reality of the situation, it works. It actually works extremely well. But as soon as Reynolds as Dave starts eating potato chips during his best friend’s most important meeting of his life, it feels dirty. It feels wrong. It feels like … Oh my god, this could have been Adam Sandler and Kevin James. It’s Bateman and Reynold’s ability to get intelligent laughs that impress me, and too often lame/easy is replaced with intelligence. Heck, when they switch bodies, there is more reality in that movie situation than when Mitch fails to mention Dave will be doing soft core porn. Or when Mitch decides he can watch “Law & Order” and negotiate a corporate merger.
I love Bateman and I like Reynolds, but they’re also fairly similar. Giving us something like Bateman and Galifianakis would have created better laughs out of the insane situations, because we perceive those two actors as complete opposites.
Extreme is rarely the right answer with humor, especially when they are trying to squeeze the laughs out of a tired formula like “body switching comedy.” Sometimes The Change-Up is game, but other times you’re just desperate for change.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10