Over the years Hollywood has produced a lot of body-swapping comedies, (18 Again!, Like Father Like Son, Freaky Friday (twice), Vice Versa) and today’s movie is certainly one of them.
The (moderately) unusual twist on today’s film, The Change-Up, is that rather than being a generational body swap, it’s a lifestyle swap. Also, instead of being a goofball family film, it’s a raunchy grown-up comedy from the director of Wedding Crashers.
Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman play Mitch Planko and Dave Lockwood, lifelong best friends who’s lives have developed in decidedly different directions. Mitch is laid-back man-child who works part-time as an actor, while Dave is a married father of three who’s on the verge of making partner at his law firm. Dave envies Mitch’s freedom, sexual adventures, and lack of stress; Mitch envies Dave’s stability and loving family. In the midst of some drunken revelry, while urinating into a mysterious fountain, the two men simultaneously wish they had the other’s life. They awake the next morning and find out that they’ve done just that.
You can probably figure out where things go from there. The “grass is always greener” storyline is an old one, and The Change-Up hits all the requisite beats. However, it does mix up the pacing a little bit. In fact, at with around 30 minutes left, I started to wonder if they were going to change things up, then they went ahead to the expected conclusion.
There were some interesting acting performances. Both Bateman and Reynolds tend to be cast as essentially the same character in everything they’re in. This holds true here; Dave is not all that different from Michael Bluth, while Mitch might as well be an older Van Wilder. However, because of the body-swapping both actors spend most of the movie playing against type, which is fun. The two leading ladies in the film also manage to stand out. Leslie Mann shows some real depth as Dave’s wife, Jamie; she really provides an excellent anchor, and is able to make things somewhat serious without ruining the comedy. Meanwhile, Olivia Wilde plays Sabrina, Dave’s assistant/secret crush. Wilde always manages to surprise me, here she manages to bring a real element of dynamism to what could easily be a generic cookie-cutter character.
While this movie has some good things going for it, there’s also plenty of bad. There’s some raunch that seems unnecessary, and a bit out-of-place, some weirdly fake CGI nudity, and at least one too many poop jokes, and the plot is, ultimately, pretty tired. On the other hand, they at least changed up the pacing, so the predictable beats aren’t hit when I was expecting them to be. Also, the film does feature my beloved Atlanta Braves, so they get some bonus points there.
At the end of the day, this movie is what it is. There are some good laughs, some mild gross-outs, and nothing too innovative. If you watch The Change-Up, it’ll provide some fun, but if you miss it, you’re not really missing out on anything too special. It’s pretty much the definition of a middle-of-the road “Worth Seeing” film.