The Change-Up **
Directed by: David Dobkin.
Written by: Jon Lucas & Scott Moore.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds (Mitch Planko), Jason Bateman (Dave Lockwood), Leslie Mann (Jamie Lockwood), Olivia Wilde (Sabrina McArdle), Alan Arkin (Mitch's Dad), Mircea Monroe (Tatiana), Gregory Itzin (Flemming Steel),
Rouviere (Cara Lockwood). Sydney
The body switch comedy has long been a standard comedic device in the movies. We’ve seen it in Freaky Friday (twice) or Face/Off and any number of other movies. They can be fun, because it allows actors to play against type – so for instance in Face/Off the usual hero John Travolta gets to go over the top like Nicholas Cage, while Cage has to play it straight. Or Lindsay Lohan has to play a mature adult, while Jamie Lee Curtis has to act like a teenager. Good times. So walking into a film like The Change Up, you really cannot expect anything new. That’s okay really, because if it’s handled well, the body switch comedy can still work. Unfortunately, it really isn’t handled all that well this time.
The film stars Jason Bateman as Dave, a lawyer on the verge of becoming a partner in his firm if he can close one more deal, who is also struggling to hold together his marriage to Jamie (Leslie Mann) and raise his 6 year old daughter, and twin babies. His best friend since third grade is Mitch (Ryan Reynolds), who has never really grown up, and still trying to make it as an actor, but in reality just sits around getting stone all day, and sleeping with beautiful women, because afterall, he looks like Ryan Reynolds. They go out one night, get drunk, and as they are peeing in a fountain both say “I wish I had your life”, and sure enough, the next day, they wake up in each other’s lives. The fountain has been moved, and through bureaucratic fumblings, no one can tell them where. So for a while, the two have to remain the other one – and both learn some valuable life lessons.
This could be the setup for a wonderful comedy, or a truly dreadful one. Unfortunately, it’s a little bit of both. The opening scenes – which shows the two of them trapped in their own lives – are awkward and unfunny – as they normally are in these movies. Once the switch happens, these don’t get much better, and there are truly dreadful scenes – like Dave having to fill in for Mitch on the set of a lorno. The opening hour or so of The Change Up has very little to recommend it, and is for the most part pretty damn bad.
But after an hour or so, the film settles down. Bateman, who looks uncomfortable playing the more freewheeling, profane Mitch at first, settles into the role in the second half. The same can be said for Reynolds, who doesn’t fare as well in the first half as the uptight Dave at first, settles into the in the second half. The movie itself doesn’t try quite as hard – doesn’t force the comedy in the second half, but lets it flow a little more naturally. The second half is by no means great, but it is an improvement over the first.
Yet, I really cannot forgive a movie which is half pretty horrible. The Change Up certainly has moments – and it gets by on the charm of its leads as the movie progresses, but overall, it simply doesn’t work. They tried, but ultimately, The Change Up fails.