Movie Review: The Change-Up

The Change-Up (2011)
112 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by David Dobkin
Starring: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde

Grade:  C

The premise for The Change-Up is two people switch bodies and then have to go throughout each other’s daily routines without messing up each other’s lives too badly. Hmm, where have I seen this before? What separates this film from the other body-switching films in the past is that 1. There’s more of a self-realization rather than walking-in-someone-else’s-shoes appreciation and 2. This is an R-rated film, so it is very raunchy.

The movie stars Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds, two actors who would be fine with any well-written, funny screenplay. Unfortunately, the screenplay (written by writers of The Hangover) falls flat in the raunchy, shock-comedy genre that we’re used to in most R-rated comedies these days. There is a handful of female nudity, and a lot of cursing, but there was never a moment in the film when I really felt they went for a homerun with a gag. Instead, they settled for a few singles and doubles, and most of those were the result of throwing errors.

We have Dave Lockwood (Bateman) who is the responsible, successful lawyer and father of three. And then there’s Mitch Planko (Reynolds) who is a grown-up teenager who has no responsibilities as a failed actor other than smoking pot. The two spend a night out at a bar, get drunk, piss in a fountain while reciting “I wish I had your life,” and then the magic ensues.

After realizing that they will be stuck in each other’s bodies for at least a week (somehow, they’re certain that if they piss in the same fountain again, they’ll definitely return to their own bodies), they continue to live each other’s lives and on the way, learn a thing or two about themselves. The problem I had with this is that Dave and Mitch are such complete opposites, I don’t feel that any one person will be invested in both characters. I found myself enjoying Dave’s story-line because he had more on the line with his stagnant marriage and juggling his workload with his family time.

I guess some might be more enticed by Mitch’s silly, frat-boy antics, but his story doesn’t carry the weight and urgency as Dave’s does. If the film didn’t concentrate on giving them equal screen-time, then I wouldn’t have minded as much, but for every minute I was enjoying Dave’s dilemma there was a minute being wasted on Mitch’s nonsense. As for the supporting roles, Olivia Wilde provided everything the film needed in a female role, a sexy and confident woman to compliment the raunchy type of comedy The Change-Up strives for. Oh, not to mention CGI breasts on her and Leslie Mann.

Overall, The Change-Up had a handful of laughs, but fails at being the effective R-rated comedy that we’ve seen from Bridesmaids and The Hangover. It’s not a bad film, but forgettable and disappointing. But if there’s any reason to watch this film more than once, it’s for those CGI enhancements.

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