Notable Cast: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin
Review: It wouldn’t be the summer movie season without the obligatory entry into the “Raunchy Comedy” genre. The Change-Up gladly steps into the role, cramming in as much pissing, pooping, tits, and ass without risking the integrity of the film…almost. A la such classic body switching films as Face/Off, where we get Cage and Travolta doing their best impression of the other, The Change-Up has Bateman and Reynolds digging deep into each other’s psyche, and trying to pick up the most subtle nuances in the other’s personality. Then, the writers try and turn that into something that can lead to showing gratuitous T N’ A shots. From the first minutes of the film, it’s clear the perverted adventure you’re about to embark on. That, and you’ll want to vomit uncontrollably. For all the raunch we get though, there’s also a story of camaraderie and family values hidden under discarded panties and bras. The writers try and add somewhat of a moral to their twisted story at least. For those looking for that deeper meaning, it becomes apparent eventually. But for those just in it for the lolz, there should be enough jokes to keep your movie ADD from walking you out of the theater.
Mitch (Reynolds) and Dave (Bateman) are best friends from childhood, but are dealing with maturity in their own ways. Dave worked his fingers to the bone in order to graduate from the best schools, advance quickly in his law career, and own his dream house filled with the perfect family. Mitch on the other hand was content with dropping out of school and becoming an “actor,” which means he sits around all day smoking pot. With time scarce for Dave, the two schedule a man date in which they both get a little too intoxicated. The friends have a heart to heart about envying how the other turned out, being polar opposites at this point in their lives. Well, by way of some black magic, as the two are urinating in the same fountain, they wish for each other’s lives at the same exact time. Their wish is the fountain’s command. When they wake up the next day, Mitch and Dave have switched bodies, and now are living the life of the other. Dave was in the process of becoming partner at his employers film, while on the other hand Mitch had just received a breakthrough acting role, making their situation all the more difficult. Until they figure out how to deal with their curse though, the two have to carry out their new daily tasks as not to ruin each other’s lives. Thinking about my friends, I’d be screwed from the get go if one of them got a hold of my body, so I could only imagine how a movie was going to portray it.
“You idiot! If this was a few months earlier I could be tapping Scarlett Johansson!”
Number one, give props to Bateman for snagging another leading movie role. This guy has been all over big 2011 comedy with Horrible Bosses and Paul to his name, which both garnered enough respect to be considered successes. But The Change-Up itself needed Bateman, as Reynold’s good looks can only get you so far with the female demographic. Bateman’s Ryan Reynolds impression was tenfold greater than Reynold’s impression of Bateman, showing Bateman as the far more solid comedy player, obviously. But what worked for Bateman in The Change-Up is that you could love him for all the unusual reasons. He gets to be that sick degenerate who curses and smokes pot instead of the usual straight character that he plays so well in most his other films. He can do both which makes him all the more valuable, whether it’s keeping Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day in line throughout Horrible Bosses, or dumping milk on babies in The Change-Up. Reynolds himself has his fun, but we’ve seen him play prim and proper before so you don’t get the same reaction you have to Bateman. Ryan plays a typical selfish, unambitious, and brutish slacker, until he switches bodies. Then he gets to play Mr. Nice Guy, and he loses a lot of comedic value, playing a type of character that could be found in any romantic comedy. It’s the Bateman show for the entire end two-thirds of the film, as he straps on his backpack and lugs The Change-Up all the way to the finish.
Where the film falters though is the sense that some of the jokes were used just for shock value. These instances dance the line between what is funny and what is too far, not getting a full belly laugh gratification a film like Grandma’s Boy provokes with its “so far it’s funny” humor. You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about from the film’s opening scene, taking the baby poo cannon sight gag seen in all the trailers and really pushing it as far as possible. I know I’m being rather vague with words like “instances,” but some might find the gross-out/wtf (abbreviation meaning “what the f#ck” for those not adept to internet lingo) moments funnier than others, so I’m trying not to spoil. To me, they were almost distraction tactics, that try and force memorable moments upon you. Sure, these scenes stick with you long after your viewing, but it’s only because you can’t shake it out. You can’t force memorable scenes, if you want them done right.
The Change-Up is a pure over the top boundary pushing comedy that tries to disguise itself with the heartwarming story about friendship. When all is said and done though and the poo settles, The Change-Up is a series of moments that don’t come together to form a cohesive film. You’ll get a lot of shock and awe, a jaw drop or two, but not always for the right reason. So those looking for the raunch, you will not be disappointed in the least. Bateman is the hands down star cast wise, having fun getting out of character, and you get exactly what you’d expect from Reynolds’ character. The Change-Up takes a Hot Tub Time Machine-esque mentality on plot development, but more focus is put on finding a way to show every female character naked as often as possible than the silly situations themselves. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll laugh, but if you miss this one, it’s nothing to keep yourself up at night over.
Final Rating: 6.5 knife wielding babies out of 10
One of the only scenes Leslie Mann actually keeps her top on…not that I’m complaining…damn you Judd Apatow