The tone of The Change-Up is introduced within the first five minutes of the film, when Jason Bateman’s character is trying to change diapers on his twin babies at the same time, and unfortunately fails with his infant son; while un-diapered, the baby squirts poop and it ends up on Bateman’s face and even, yes, in his mouth. I was prepared to hate this movie after that, but after the first third or so it does a complete 180 and turns into an almost-serious movie that actually wasn’t awful, in sharp contrast to the crudeness in the first half.
Dave (Jason Bateman, “Horrible Bosses”) and Mitch (Ryan Reynolds, “The Green Lantern”) have been best friends since grade school but the two could not be more different. Dave is married to Jamie (Leslie Mann, “Funny People”) and has three children, including newborn twins, and works as a lawyer; Mitch is a (mostly unemployed) actor who has sex with four or more different women in any given week. One night, after drinking a bit too much, Dave and Mitch go to relieve themselves in a fountain outside, and at the same time they each say the fateful words, “I wish I had your life.” The next day, Dave wakes up in Mitch’s body and vice versa, and they must learn to juggle and adapt to each other’s lives, at least until they can find the fountain–which was dug up the next day by a construction crew–and return to their own bodies.
This concept has been done many times before, most recently in 2003’s Freaky Friday with Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis, which I very much enjoyed. The trailer for The Change-Up didn’t look too promising, but I like both Bateman and Reynolds, so I figured I’d give it a shot. The first third or so of the movie is as lewd and lascivious as the trailer makes it look, but by the time we cross the halfway point, something interesting starts to happen: the movie becomes more serious. If I was rating the movie on that half alone, I would say Yes, go see it; unfortunately, movies must be reviewed as the sum of their parts, not on each individual part alone.
Maybe see this film. If you can handle the gross-out parts in the first third, you will probably like this movie. Olivia Wilde (Cowboys & Aliens) has a funny role as a law associate in Bateman’s office, who Reynolds (as Bateman) goes out on a date with, and Alan Arkin (“City Island”) and Gregory Itzin (TV’s “Covert Affairs”) have good supporting roles as well. I would definitely recommend this over Reynolds’s last movie (“Green Lantern”) and fans of Reynolds and Bateman will probably enjoy The Change-Up.
The Change-Up is in theaters today, August 5th, and is rated R, with a runtime of 112 minutes.
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