Old 09-10-2011, 09:28 PM
The Change-Up

So here we are in 2011 with a body swap comedy. Really? Once again confirming that Hollywood is running out of originality, The Change-Up is a pretty standard affair in terms of this genre. You know how it’ll start, you know how it’s going to end, and given the polar opposite personalities of the lead duo, it’s a safe assumption you’ll know most of what will happen in between. I say most as the screenwriters (‘The Hangover’ scribes Jon Lucas and Scott Moore) have gone with the ‘the grosser the funnier’ routine and thrown in a series of outlandish set pieces that are enough to disrupt the predictable conventions of the story.

Opening with a baby bodily function gag, just so you know what you’re in for, the film quickly introduces us to best friends, and soon to be inhabitants of each other’s lives, Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds) and Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman). Mitch is a sometime-actor living a care-free life, going from one meaningless sex partner to the next, all the while doing his best to distance himself from his father (Alan Arkin). Dave is an up-and-coming corporate lawyer with three young children and a seemingly happy marriage with Jamie (Leslie Mann). One night whilst out drinking they discuss how green they believe the grass is on the other side and before you know it we have a simultaneous stream of urine goimg into a magic fountain and voila!

Bachelor Mitch now inhabits the responsible lifestyle of married lawyer Dave, and vice versa. Obviously, this switch will result in them both not taking what they have for granted (Mitch’s relationship with his father, and Jamie feeling under-appreciated being prime examples), but if you’re easily offended or have a more refined taste in comedy, skip this at all costs. Sight gags and pervasive profanity are passed off as humour here and that can only take you so far. Sure, hearing Mitch, as Dave, mouth off to “his” daughter about a poem he didn’t read is admittedly rather funny and the awkwardness of Dave (Mitch) having to keep up appearances as a studly bachelor is endearing, but in a year when the likes of ‘Bridesmaids’, ‘Bad Teacher’ and ‘Horrible Bosses’ have shown the successful balance of sight gags and foul language, ‘The Change-Up’ seems to be reaching more towards comedic desperation, especially when, at one point, one of Dave’s newborns wields a meatcleaver in a state of delirium.

Reynolds and Bateman are capable performers no question and Bateman is particularly good here, but even they are above this material. It’s quite surprising to see Reynolds in this type of film as he has advanced quite well in his career, and this is a giant step backwards. As for the leading ladies, Mann, saddled with the same kind of role she’s perfected in the similarly themed ’17 Again’ and ‘Knocked Up’, rises above the script and manages to hold her own impressively but Olivia Wilde, playing Dave’s sexy secretary, does little more than look amazing.

With ‘The Hangover’ and its sequel clearly winning audiences over, and with the reaction to this film equally as riotous, ‘The Change-Up’ already has its own built-in fan base, and I’m not above admitting I chuckled heavily throughout, but there have been so many other better handled comedies released this year that this comes across more like a foul mouthed acquaintance we can all admit to finding funny in small doses but is never invited to stay for the long haul.

More of my reviews here - http://ratedpdg.tumblr.com/
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