Review: “The Change-Up”
I am the target demographic for “The Change-Up.” I am a 30-something family man with fond recollections of my days of sowing wild oats, an appreciation of raunchy comedies, positive views of Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds plus I’m nostalgic about the body-swap-movie craze of the 1980s. If I don’t love this movie, no one will.
Bad news everybody else, I only found fleeting moments of enjoyment while watching “The Change-Up” as this lukewarm comedy never seems to find its rhythm in spite of some genuine effort on the part of the two leads.
Bateman and Reynolds are two life-long friends at very different places in their lives. Bateman is a workaholic, married with a precocious daughter and a set of twin babies. His wife, played by Leslie Mann, barely sees him as he dedicates all of his time to making partner at his law firm.
Reynolds plays a complete slacker whose life is devoid of any meaningful relationships. He coasts by on his good looks and he considers a productive day one spent smoking pot and playing video games.
As is the case with all body-swapping movies (have there been enough of these to officially count as a genre?) each man sees the grass as being greener in the life of his friend and openly wishes he could take the other’s place.
Then thanks to some supernatural hokum (in this case, simultaneous urination into a magic fountain) both men wake up in the other guy’s body.
“The Change-Up” then plays out pretty much as you would expect. There are lots of outrageous situations and wacky misunderstandings that arise from such a high-concept predicament. Each man learns that while his own life may not be great, his buddy’s life isn’t so hot either. Then when they end up back in their own bodies they incorporate what they’ve learned into their own lives and we all go home better people.
The biggest problem with “The Change-Up,” aside from its beat by beat predictability is that it seems to have a hard time picking the appropriate tone. Director David Dobkin, best known for helming “The Wedding Crashers,” can’t seem to decide if he is making a bawdy, full-bore sex comedy or if he is making a sweet, sentimental family film. The result is like mixing chocolate with broccoli – just weird.
It is fun to see Bateman and Reynolds play against type after the switch, with Bateman going all manic and cocky, and Reynolds being dry and sarcastic. Mann gives a bold little performance herself as she manages to keep pace with the boys in all of her scenes.
Unfortunately though, there’s just not a lot in “The Change-Up” to get excited about. At best you’ll be slightly amused and at worst you’ll wish you could swap bodies with someone watching another movie.
“The Change-Up” is rated R for pervasive strong crude sexual content and language, some graphic nudity and drug use.