Review: 'The Change-Up' Hides Formula Under Gross Humor
If you've ever wondered what Freaky Friday would have been like with toilet humor and frequent uses of the F-word, then The Change-Up is a movie for you.
For everyone else, once you get past the film's adult content - it definitely earns its "R" rating - what's left is a formulaic body switch thriller that even the generally likeable Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman can't raise above average.
The trailers for The Change-Up pretty much give you the gist of the film. Family man Dave Lockwood (Bateman) is best friends with unrepentant bachelor Mitch Planko (Reynolds). Both of them have things to envy about each other's lives - Dave misses the freedom of singlehood, while Mitch yearns for the stability of Dave's home and career. One drunken night, the words "I wish I had your life" leave their lips and the two wake up the next day having switched bodies. What ensues is largely a comedy of errors as the two spend time in each other's shoes, each of them realizing things about the other - and themselves - along the way.
There's a charismatic cast here for sure, including not just Bateman and Reynolds (playing a more foul-mouthed version of his Michael "Berg" Bergen character from the TV series Two Guys and a Girl), but also Leslie Mann as Dave's put-upon wife Jamie, and Olivia Wilde (with her second film rolling into theaters in two weeks, behind Cowboys & Aliens) as Sabrina, the associate in Dave's office that Mitch has his eye on.
In the supporting role department, you'll also spot Gregory Itzin (24) as Dave's boss, Vickie Eng (Good Eats) as a mediator, Alan Arkin as Mitch's dad, and Mircea Monroe (Episodes) as one of Mitch's conquests. Everyone in the flick has some charm, which makes it almost more frustrating that they're saddled with average material.
Wilde's character, for example, seems almost like two different people: we're led to believe that she's relatively normal for the first part of the flick, then at the halfway point she reveals a penchant for late-night tattoos and risque humor. It's a development that seems to come out of nowhere so that she can properly fall for the less restrained Mitch. That's 's one example of the predictability of The Change-Up. This kind of movie isn't meant to surprise, but it sometimes borders on painfully obvious.
Now, I don't mind a movie where the plot is telegraphed, as long as the journey is entertaining...and this one misses the mark for me. So much of it is either gross humor, or Mitch doing something vastly inappropriate that Dave must scramble to correct, or both. The latter is fairly rote and the former goes a bit too far. Given that this movie comes from the writers of The Hangover, I was expecting a fair amount of adult humor, but there's an abundance of it and much of it doesn't really add anything to the script. Reynolds' character says the F-word so many times that it loses all shock value and becomes tiresome. The flick also contains multiple jokes about bowel movements, several about sex including one with a woman who's nine months pregnant, and a few shots of women's breasts, including one that's cringe-inducing.
There are a few legitimately funny jokes in there (such as a sequence where Dave explains the rules of marriage to Mitch, from grocery shopping to dealing with children, and another where Jamie holds the babysitter hostage when she breaks down over her failing marriage), but they're lost in the middle.
If you're a fan of the more crude humor-oriented comedies that have popped up over the last few years, then you'll get good laughs out of The Change-Up. Otherwise, even if you're a fan of the actors involved, it's best to save this for a rental. Even if you're not bothered by the emphasis on adult content, once you put that aside, there's just not enough left for it to be worth your $10-13.