Review: The Change-Up
The body-swap movie is back but is this one worth your time? Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds star in David Dobkin’s tale about two best friends who trade bodies and live to regret it.
Fresh-faced Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman star in body-swap comedy The Change-Up from director David Dobkin. Reynolds plays Mitch Planko, a free-spirited singleton who plays hard and works little, Bateman plays Dave Lockwood, a career lawyer with wife in tow and newly-born twins; the pair are best friends but now live completely different lives. The twosome get together for a few drinks and drunkenly discuss what it would be like to live the other’s life. Wishing to swap lives while urinating in a park fountain the pair wake up to find their wish has come true. Now serial bachelor, work-shy Mitch must change nappies and ensure Dave’s major merger goes through so that he makes partner at his law firm, while Dave must avoid the amorous attentions of Mitch’s many female partners.
The Change-Up negotiates the overcrowded seas of the well-worn genre known as Body Swap without once trying to differentiate itself from a host of other films. That it is derivative, predictable and painstakingly dull during a second half where the characters go through the genre’s life-lesson obligations should consign the film to the ever-lengthening list of movies to avoid in 2011. But miraculously The Change-Up distinguishes ever-so-slightly thanks to a pair of sprightly performances and some genuinely funny slapstick.
Reynolds and Bateman are charming leads. Both have an eye for comedy, particularly Bateman, and clearly have plenty of fun with the material. But like the film itself, even their names – Mike and Dave – feel old hat. From the minute the pair change bodies we can predict their every move. The ending, although obvious, also has a major plot hole that leaves the closing, supposedly feel-good crane shot with a sour rather than sweet taste in the mouth. The film also suffers from a second half that agonisingly drags. The jokes about breasts and penises that put a glossy if unsophisticated finish on old material in the first half dry up (or are hung up) while the film crosses the T’s and dots the I’s of the eventual return of Dave and Mike to their own bodies.
The Change-Up is crudely amusing for those that crave jokes about sex with heavily pregnant women and the difficulties of managing the lives of twin babies in a kitchen full of dangerous objects (such as the food blender and meat cleaver). But it is ultimately tired, derivative filmmaking that doesn’t so much encourage nail biters to chew their nails as much as it begs them to gnaw their arms off in agonising boredom.
Directed by: David Dobkin
Written by: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann , Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, Mircea Monroe, Gregory Itzin, Ned Schmidtke, Ming Lo, Sydney Rouviere
Released: 2011 / Genre: Comedy / Country: USA / IMDB