Review: The Change-Up

daniel cohen reviews the latest in the endless series of body-switching films …

Plot: Dave (Jason Bateman) and Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) are best friends, but complete opposites. Dave is a successful lawyer and family man, while Mitch is a burn-out who barely works. But one night, they magically switch bodies as both have to handle the other’s life.

The film begins with Jason Bateman’s character Dave changing diapers to his twin babies. One of them unloads projectile shit into Dave’s face and into his mouth. Yup…we are off and running. For this movie to climb back up to respectability it basically had to be The Godfather from that point forward, and suffice it say, it was not The Godfather.

After a summer of solid comedies like Bad Teacher and Horrible Bosses, Hollywood delivers us this lazy, disturbing, offensive, but most importantly, unfunny excuse for a comedy. It’s nothing but shoehorned in sex gags that are anything but clever. It desperately tries to shock and gross you out, but no one’s buying it. Mitch is starring in a porn film, but now straight-laced Dave in Mitch’s body has to unknowingly be in it. Uh-oh … here comes the hilarity. I guess I should expect nothing less from the director of Wedding Crashers (David Dobkin).

 

Even with a bad comedy, I should at least like the characters. Dave was fine, but Ryan Reynolds’ character Mitch was a complete asshole. He reminded me of Jason Sudeikis from Hall Pass earlier this year. He’s just a pathetic child that I have no interest in rooting for or liking. He offends everything in his path, and not in a funny way, but in an awkward uncomfortable way. Every line he spoke had to incorporate profanity, like someone working on the film would get arrested if this didn’t happen. Now he’s not as insufferable as Sudeikis, because at least Reynolds is far more talented and got me to chuckle here and there.

In fact, if this role was played by Sudeikis or someone like Sean William Scott, it would have been ten times worse. I feel bad for Reynolds though. I like the guy a lot, but Buried went under the radar, Green Lantern was a huge bomb, and now there’s The Change-Up. Maybe he needs to go on some sabbatical and get away for a while. I’m rooting for the guy, but he’s had some bad luck lately.

Jason Bateman probably gives the best performance in the film when he has to play Mitch. The character is still an asshole, but Bateman is at least mildly amusing. Leslie Mann as Dave’s wife was also really likable, and Olivia Wilde as Dave’s assistant was also a lot of fun. The actors are trying, but they have absolutely nothing to work with.

Every single joke is telegraphed from a mile away. It’s just painful. And the scenes that try and shock you are just gross and unsettling. There’s a moment with a pregnant lady that really made me squeamish. But probably the most disturbing scene is when fake Dave goes down to the kitchen with his twin babies. He just lets them roam around the kitchen counter as they put their hands in blenders and play with knives. This isn’t funny. It’s disturbing. It reminded me of Son Of The Mask and all the physical comedy that baby went through. Whenever you have a film that reminds you of Son Of The Mask, you’re in really bad company.

 

But the worst crime this movie commits like so many other comedies of recent years is that it gets all sappy and serious at the end turning into a dramedy. You’ve got to be kidding me. There’s no way in hell I’m taking this mix of genres seriously after high jinx on porno sets and babies juggling knives. It’s a lot like Russell Brand’s Arthur earlier this year. How am I supposed to take the drama seriously when the first scene is him wearing a nipple Batman costume? In both cases, the tone is inconsistent and feels like two separate movies.

Bottom-line: If you’ve seen any body switch comedy in your lifetime, you’ve seen this one. It’s a cliché cathedral throughout the entire film. I chuckled 4 or 5 times, but never had one true laugh out loud moment. And I’m not alone. The audience I saw it with laughed just as many times as I did. The actors save it from being a complete train wreck, but this is putrid, detestable, and not at all worth your time.

Rating: 3.5 out of 10 (Atrocious)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.