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.

change up, jason bateman, ryan reynolds,

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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.

Review by Daniel StephensSee all reviews

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

Buy on DVD:
Amazon.co.uk: DVD | Blu-ray
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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. DEZMOND Reply

    oh, hell, I’ve just spent two minutes trying to see if I can see what I was trying to see in that pic from the film above :))))
    I like both Ryan and Jason, but I don’t like physical humour and rude jokes.

  2. ruth Reply

    The cast is likable but not enough to make me want to see this in the slightest. I just don’t do well with crude jokes and bathroom humor.

  3. Pete Reply

    Nice review. I do agree with you. It adds nothing to the body swap idea and it’s quite stale but there were a couple of moments where I laughed out loud and seeing as I had very low expectations despite the two great leads, I quite liked it. This and Hall Pass too which I expected to suck. Both made me laugh a lot and that surprised me.

  4. niels Reply

    The humor is, like you said, very crude, and extremely childlike.
    There’s no depth, and the comedy falls flat for me. Jason Bateman is mildly amusing but Ryan Reynolds is, once again, incredibly limited as an actor who seems to play the same character over and over, no matter what film he is in.

    Average at best.

    Niels

  5. amelie Reply

    I was pretty surprised that this film wasn’t the worst of the worst and instead, like you said it was 2/10 rather than 1. It made me smile three times and I didn’t hate it, which I think was an achievement.
    Still, you are right- how many times do we have to see the same story?

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