August 10, 2011

Movie Review: The Change-Up

Have you seen The Change Up yet? No? Trust me when I say you have. This is your standard fare body switching comedy. This staple of the eighties is not the best of gimmicks, but they end to offer a decent diversion if little else. It was last used last year with the Zac Efron vehicle Seventeen Again, and probably most memorably in recent years with the Jamie Lee Curtis/Lindsay Lohan remake of Freaky Friday. This time around they amp up the raunch factor and make a body switching flick that is melded with a Judd Apatow style relationship comedy. Does it work? Sure, just don't expect too much from it.

Seriously, this is as formula as formula gets. The romantic comedy may be the only more formulaic genre out there. Well, maybe, there certainly a lot of familiar genre formulas out there. It seems like more than half of the movies that come out subscribe to one or another. Not that this is a bad thing, for as much as we want the original idea, a well executed formula film can be just as welcome. With The Change Up we have the formula in full effect, and while it is not the best executed, it is executed well enough to be quite entertaining.

This is not really a good movie and it is not likely to be remembered down the line as a great example of it's genre type or even a good movie. It is much more likely you will forget it within a few months only to stumble across it on cable or on a store shelf somewhere down the line and you will remember it, have a fond chuckle and maybe even be encouraged to revisit it, but it is not bound to be a jewel of your collection. With that said, Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds team up for some funny moments and slightly heartfelt moments as they actually execute well, almost daring to kick the quality up a notch or two.

Bateman is Dave Lockwood, family man in a stagnating marriage to Jamie (Leslie Mann) with three young children and a high profile job at a law firm. His best friend is Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds), a confirmed bachelor who lives slovenly, sleeps late, smilies weed, and has relations with any number of women, all while pursuing his dream of acting.

While watching a baseball game at a bar, the wax poetic about each others lives, the conversation carries on outside as they take a pee break at a fountain. Soon enough their pee break sees them switch bodies. While they then try to find out how to get back into their rightful bodies, they must also deal with each others lives. This includes Mitch trying to be a lawyer, being a husband, and dealing with kids, as for Dave, he must deal with acting in lorn (light porn), not to mention Mitch's sexual liaisons. It is not really easy for either of them, but in true formula of the body switch genre, the two are destined to learn something about themselves and what they really want out of life.

The movie was directed b David Dobkin, he also helmed Wedding Crashers and Fred Claus. As you can see, his track record is a bit spotty, this effort comes right in the middle. Narratively, it seems to rely a bit heavily on vulgar language and general raunchiness with the heart often feeling like an afterthought.

Bateman and Reynolds do a good job of making you believe they have switched. They are able to mimic the others tics and characteristic movements. It all helps sell the idea of the switch. The supporting cast is decent if a bit underwritten. Leslie Mann has a good turn in a role that must be familiar to her by now as the put upon wife. Then here is Olivia Wilde as the attractive coworker at the law office.

Is it all very familiar? Yes, there is no doubt about that. This is not a movie about originality, it is not even out to put a twist on the tried and true formula. The Change Up is simply about being funny in a raunchy fashion, nothing more and nothing less. The key to enjoying this movie is how much you are willing to buy into the switch. I like the leads and felt they did a pretty good job of making it work, therefore I found myself liking the movie despite it's ultimately forgettable nature.

Mildly Recommended.

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