Review: The Change-Up
PLOT: Dave (Jason Bateman) is a devoted family-man/lawyer, with three kids, and an ignored wife (Leslie Mann). Mitch is an unemployed wannabe-actor, with a never-ending string of sexual conquests, no commitments, but- at the same time, no prospects. Life-long best friends, after an evening of drinking, they wish (while peeing in a magic fountain) that they could change places. Sure enough, they next morning, Dave wakes up in Mitchís body, and vice-versa. Hijinx ensue.
REVIEW: Seriously, a body-switching comedy? Seriously? Didnít that genre play out in 1987- the year not one, not two, but three such films (VICE-VERSA, LIFE FATHER, LIKE SON & 18 AGAIN) hit theaters? I suppose whatís old is new again, and thus, here comes another body-switch comedy, albeit one with a solid comedic pedigree, with it written by the guys who wrote THE HANGOVER, and directed by David Dobkin (THE WEDDING CRASHERS).
Add to that the fact that it stars Ryan Reynolds, and Jason Bateman, whoís riding a career high after HORRIBLE BOSSES, and you have a film that, despite the tired premise, is good for a few solid laughs. Truth be told, I fully expected to hate THE CHANGE-UP, as the trailers gave me a hardcore ďmehĒ vibe. Luckily, the ace up the filmís sleeve is the fact that itís a raunchy R, and sure enough, I chuckled more than a few times throughout the 118 minute running time, although probably not enough to give this a really hearty recommendation.
This is a comedy comeback of sorts for Reynolds, who hasnít been this raunchy since WAITING, and heís pretty damn memorable as the pot-smoking Mitch, who could be described as Van Wilder if he never went to college, and became an actor. This is a nice rebound for him after earning mixed reviews from THE GREEN LANTERN (which I hated, but Reynolds was the least of the filmís problems), and itís good to see him having fun in a good R-rated flick.
Jason Bateman also continues his recent, strong run of comedies, although THE CHANGE-UP is definitely a notch below HORRIBLE BOSSES. Still, as the good-hearted, responsible Dave, he brings a much-needed warmth to the role, while also having a chance to be unusually (for Bateman) manic and crude as the wild Mitch. As far as the two leads go, the body switch premise kinda works.
As for the ladies, we get Leslie Mann as Batemanís put-upon wife, and like in her Apatow films, she gives a sharp comedic performance (complete with a generous helping of on-screen nudity). Reynolds gets to dabble with Olivia Wilde, who gets a rare chance to be funny as the wildcat lawyer working under Bateman (although I understand her on-screen nudity is CGI-assisted).
What keeps THE CHANGE-UP from being a really sharp comedy is, like all other body-switch comedies, the premise runs out of steam quickly, and theyíre not helped by the drawn-out two hour runtime. There are a lot of slow-patches, and despite a number of good laughs, the film is never as side-splitting as it should be. I also found the merger subplot involving Batemanís company to be the kind of tacked on thing weíd find in an eighties comedy, and the weakest part of the film deal with this.
So, while THE CHANGE-UP isnít a home-run, itís a decent enough comedy for a cheap night, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Itís not the best comedy Iíve seen lately, but it does the job at times, and I suppose thatís something.