Starting with a premise that has been done too many times, one needs to find a way to up the ante. Unfortunately, “The Change-up” decided to go all in with cursing, sexual innuendo, and poop at the expense of actual jokes. But, even those problems can’t hide the fact that we’re being subjected to another body-swap comedy caper.
Growing up together, Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) and Dave (Jason Bateman) were inseparable best friends, but as the years have passed, they’ve slowly drifted apart. While Dave is an overworked lawyer, husband and father of three, Mitch has remained a single, quasi-employed man-child who has never met a responsibility he liked. To Mitch, Dave has it all: beautiful wife Jamie (Leslie Mann), kids who adore him and a high-paying job at a prestigious law firm. To Dave, living Mitch’s stress-free life without obligation or consequence would be a dream come true. Following a drunken night out together, Mitch and Dave’s worlds are turned upside down when they wake up in each other’s bodies and proceed to freak out. Despite the freedom from their normal routines and habits, the guys soon discover that each other’s lives are nowhere near as rosy as they once seemed.
It is unfortunate that each of these actors attached themselves to this film. Their acting is top-notch and without their talents, the film would have fallen completely flat. Both Reynolds and Bateman play their dual roles with ease. In the same vein as “Hall Pass,” this film places the emphasis on crude humor. Where “Hall Pass” succeeded to some level, these jokes never quite work. There are a few funny scenes and much of the banter between Mitch and Dave is clever, if not funny. But the jokes don’t hit with enough consistency to make up for the story line.
The trick to making a story like this work is to make it just believable enough that the audience forgets they are watching a movie about two people magically switching bodies. Obviously, this not an easy thing to accomplish and that’s why this type of film is typically relegated to a much younger audience. To some degree, this film manages to maintain the illusion by suppressing the obvious fact that two adults have switched bodies and replacing it with poop jokes. Where it falls apart is when the poop jokes stop and the characters have their big moments of self-realization. Wow. I can’t believe I just wrote that.
That is the major crutch for this film. As soon as an adult audience is reminded they are being floated a premise that barely works on 6-year-olds, the whole film falls apart. It is also hard to have a heart-warming, self-realization scene after an hour of gratuitous T&A shots. Of course, how else can you complete this kind of film than with everyone learning a lesson about how great their life really is while stuck in each other’s bodies. Essentially, it is set up to fail.
While there is enough humor to make it passable, the film still starts off on a premise build on sand. No matter how many poop jokes stick to the walls, the whole façade is eventually going to fall apart. It’s too bad that the actors get dragged down with the proverbial house.
“See It/ Rent It/ Skip It”: Rent it. Still not as disgusting as “The Smurfs” grossing $55 million.
TWO AND A HALF STARS out of four.
Directed by David Dobkin. Written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.
Rated R for pervasive strong crude sexual content and language, some graphic nudity and drug use.
Runtime: 1 hour and 52 minutes