Year 2, Film #69 (Total #434)
THE PLOT: Dave is a married man with two kids and a loving wife, and Mitch is a single man who is at the prime of his sexual life. One fateful night while Mitch and Dave are peeing in a fountain when lightning strikes and they switch bodies.
THE REVIEW: There is funny and entertaining, and then there is boring and unoriginal. The Change-Up falls under the latter category. Not only does this film take on the way overdone body-switching genre but it doesn’t even contribute anything new to the formula. It’s the same old garbage of two people with totally different lives having to take the place of the other. While having Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds play the two main characters has a lot of promise, especially in the role reversal, it ultimately fails to meet it’s potential.
I watch a lot of movies and write a lot about them, and most of the time I feel I get into a repetitive rut where I just repeat the same thing over and over but change the details to make it fit whatever new movie I’m talking about. One of these repetitious points is about originality and bringing something new to the table. A film should always deliver something unexpected, or if it has been done before and is expected, at least make it entertaining to watch. With The Change-Up, there are a lot of precedents such as Big, Freaky Friday (both the 1976 original and the 2003 remake), and Trading Places (not really a body-switcher film, but still the same basic premise) that have come before it meaning the gimmick of switching bodies can’t serve as the sole entertainment value; there has to be something else.
And there really isn’t that much of substance in The Change-Up. David Lockwood (Jason Bateman) is the uptight, married guy who spends more time at his job than with his family while his best friend Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds) is the high school dropout who hasn’t done anything with his life yet. The best part about the film is the casting that was done. Bateman feels right at home as David and the same with Reynolds as Mitch. But the real test is how they work as the opposites because that’s what the majority of the film is like. There’s a lot of promise and it can be seen throughout the film. There are so many moments when it seems like it’s going to breakthrough and just work. For example, there’s David trying to pass the merger, the two describing what their lives entail (complete with montages), and even Mitch having a talk with David’s/his wife Jamie (Leslie Mann). All of these scenes almost pulls you into the film and gets you to let go and just enjoy what you’re watching. Seeing these two act so different from how they normally act is a great opportunity.
But these moments, which are already few and far between, are squandered for attempts to make jokes that are really just the wrong amount of vulgar and disgusting. A film like The Hangover is extremely vulgar and disgusting but that kind of comedy works there because they don’t hold back. The Hangover is one of the most vile films you’ll ever watch because they go for it full throttle. In The Change-Up, it’s that level of vulgarity they are aiming for but instead they reach a level just below that. As a result, a scene like the opening where one of David’s twin babies projectile-poops all over his face simply isn’t funny, it’s just gross.
The Change-Up doesn’t fail because it isn’t original. There have been many formulaic Hollywood-blockbusters that’s I’ve very much enjoyed despite a lack of originality. The Change-Up fails because it doesn’t even attempt to do anything remotely new or engaging. The only hope was in casting Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds as the two leads and seeing them play opposite each other. And despite a few hopeful moments scattered throughout the film where the actors are almost allowed to shine, there isn’t anything funny or interesting that happens in the film. Go watch another body-switching film like Big, or even a romantic comedy like 50 First Dates that at least tries to do something new, rather than The Change-Up.
THE RATING: 2 out of 5