Too many times we’ve seen the old switcharoo take place in movies. Someone switches bodies with someone else, or perhaps he/she simply gets bigger, thinking that life would be better that way, only to find out that it’s not. ‘The Change-Up’ is the first time (that I can think of) where this has happened in an R-rated comedy. So, if nothing else, it holds some potential for humor that couldn’t exist in a movie with a softer rating. Too bad that potential is wasted on such a wishy-washy, inconsistent mess of a film. .
Do any of you married folk envy the wild, commitment-less lives of your still-single friends? Do any of you single folk envy the settled-down lives of your married friends? Ever want to swap? Plain and simple, that’s what happens in ‘The Change-Up’.
Jason Bateman plays Dave Lockwood, the married guy whose life lacks excitement. Yes, he’s married to an awesome and attractive woman (Leslie Mann), but he’s so caught up with making partner at his law firm that there’s hardly any time to spend with his family. Dave’s long-time best friend Mitch is having a completely opposite time in his life.
Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds) lives a glorified bachelor life as a small-time actor. He sleeps in every day, goes onto set in the afternoon and parties all night long. But deep down inside, he really envies the stable life that Dave leads. At the same time, Dave is envious of Mitch’s life, vicariously living through his wild conquests.
After staying out late and drinking way too much one night, the two of them use a magical fountain as a urinal. As they say “I wish I had your life” in unison (jinx on Coke!), the statue at the center of the fountain gets pissed and gives them exactly what they wanted – or, what they thought they wanted – and switches their lives.
Bateman is one of the best straight-faced comedic actors out there, and Reynolds has a fast, sarcastic and witty sense of humor. Although their brands of comedy are very different, combining them is priceless. Seeing Bateman act like Reynolds and vice versa is great comedy in itself. It’s a shame that someone – the director, writers, producers, studio execs… someone – didn’t just trust them and let them go with it.
The comedy of ‘The Change-Up’ constantly switches back and forth between the hilarious styles expected of Bateman and Reynolds with that of a cheap, poorly-written low-brow family comedy. Half of the movie resembles the crude R-rated comedy you thought you were going to see, but the other half stoops to lowest-common-denominator humor you’d expect from an Adam Sandler turkey. It feels as if someone in charge thought that the original screenplay (by the guys who wrote ‘The Hangover’) wasn’t funny enough. So, they added in a bunch of the unfunny, formulaic garbage, thinking that would correct it. Except that the original script was funny enough to begin with.
Anyone expecting the movie portrayed in the advertisements is going to be sorely disappointed. Had ‘The Change-Up’ stuck to the Bateman/Reynolds R-rated humor, it might have been fantastic. Instead, it’s bogged down by pooping baby jokes and dirty immature sex scenes that feel like they were written by 12-year-old boys. As is, ‘The Change-Up’ is like eating around a dead cockroach in the middle of your favorite ice cream.