The Change-Up Review
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I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but somebody’s got to do it, so here it goes: Summer Blockbuster Season is officially over. We’ve turned the calendar from July to August—and now, instead of thrilling action films and clever rom-coms, we get cheaply-made horror flicks and formulaic comedies that rely on baby poop and inappropriately-timed expletives for laughs. The first of August is generally a pretty sad day for movie lovers—and, this year, it’s made even sadder by the fact that it’s ushered in by a painfully overdone comedy by two otherwise likeable stars.

The Change-Up tells the same body-swapping story that we’ve seen time and time again. Dave (Jason Bateman) is a stable, responsible family man with a beautiful wife (Leslie Mann) and three cute kids. He’s also a dedicated and hard-working lawyer who’s working on the deal that could make him a partner in his firm. Mitch (Ryan Reynolds), on the other hand, is a confirmed bachelor whose occasional acting gigs somehow support his constant diet of booze, pot, and women.

  
 
After a night of drinking, the lifelong friends each wish for the other’s life while they relieve themselves in a fountain. The next morning, they wake to find that they’ve switched bodies. As you might expect, comic chaos ensues. Mitch puts Dave’s job and family in jeopardy, while Dave finds himself acting in a lorno (that’s a “light porno,” for those who didn’t know). But, of course, in the process, they also learn valuable lessons about themselves and their friendship.

Since the story is so obviously trite and utterly predictable, the filmmakers don’t even bother to attempt to make any of it seem the slightest bit plausible. Instead, they use the overplayed story as a weak backdrop for little more than a constant barrage of the crudest, raunchiest, most expletive-laden gags imaginable. For a while, it’s almost funny—in that awkward and uncomfortable kind of way that filmmakers seem so fond of these days—but it quickly grows old. Then, after it gets old, it gets irritating.

To make matters even worse, the abundance of poop, porn, and penis jokes are then mixed in with dramatic parts that seem entirely out of place—as Mitch has to come to grips with some daddy issues and Dave discovers that his wife feels ignored and unloved. In any other movie, these parts may have made for an interesting turn of events. Here, however, they just make the movie feel wildly uneven—alternately sappy and obnoxious.

Of course, after years of playing the lovably awkward but reliably responsible husband / father / best friend / boss, Bateman must have loved playing this part. Delivering Mitch’s lines, he gets to be loud and offensive and politically incorrect. But, after years of playing that same role, he just isn’t convincing as the foul-mouthed playboy. And it’s made even more disappointing by the fact that The Change-Up is Bateman’s follow-up to Horrible Bosses—another R-rated comedy that was actually funny.

With stars like Bateman and Reynolds, this could have been an easy-going buddy comedy. But, in trying to push the envelope, the makers of The Change-Up pushed it too far—and the result is an awkward, uneven, and generally obnoxious flick that’s sadly deserving of its August release.

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