Review: ‘The Change-Up’

Wednesday, August 3 by
 

The Change-Up is a watchable generic comedy. It’s okay for a night out or a DVD, but it’s hard to call it good. We’re not talking embarrassing or offensive, but you still want more.

Dave (Jason Bateman) and Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) switch bodies thanks to a magic fountain. At least the film has the decency to acknowledge that it doesn’t really matter what caused the body swapping. They pee in a fountain, the lights black out, they wake up as each other. Boom.

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It turns out they weren’t really jealous of each other’s lives. They were each just being polite. So it’s not a wish fulfillment. Mitch is now saddled with a job and a family and Dave is forced to be an actor on a lorno set (light porno, a totally contrived sequence that goes for the easiest laughs). The poster is a lie. Dave never has three ways with hot girls. All his sexual encounters are played for laughs.

It’s funnier to see Bateman and Reynolds play each other’s personas than their own. Maybe they should really switch. The script is not what I’d call inspired though. Dave and Mitch do a lot of babbling. Their dialogue is not clever, but they say it so fast the audience thinks they’ve heard jokes. To their credit, that’s probably the actors’ improv and it’s probably an improvement over what was actually written.

6 photosLeslie Mann

Mitch being inappropriate to Dave’s kids is a really thin joke. He teaches Dave’s daughter to fight back against a ballet school bully, but pointing out the insincerity of stroking a child’s ego doesn’t really seem like a joke. After the first few F bombs, we get it. He’s swearing in front of children.

Dave’s wife Jamie (Leslie Mann) is legitimately upset by these shenanigans. She’s trying to keep her family together, making her the perfect straight woman. If only she had some good comedy to which she could react.

Mitch and Dave learn about themselves by taking each other’s perspectives. Mitch gets to hear his dad (Alan Arkin) say something nice about him, because dad can only say it to Dave. Dave sees what a bad husband he’s been because Jamie can only confide in Mitch. Mitch experiences a child’s love. Awww.

Oh, Dave is also working on a major deal for his promotion, which is the generic job Mitch has to learn how to do when they switch bodies. I mean, it’s not as horrifying as 17 Again, also starring Mann and another recent take on the ‘80s high concept. That was all about a guy wishing he hadn’t abandoned the teenage girl he knocked up, and it had Thomas Lennon peacocking. So go see The Change-Up for a body swapping comedy that’s more focused on poop and butt hole jokes.

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