It’s not the 80′s anymore and Hollywood is still making body changing movies! If you had to make one though who better to cast in it than Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman (two of my favorite actors)?! A movie where Reynolds is an unemployed slacker pothead and Bateman is a work obsessed family man who switch bodies actually doesn’t sound that bad.
It is pretty bad still though for the first half of it’s running length. Despite having two of the best funny men in the business, most of the jokes fall a little flat for almost all of the film’s setup (Reynolds and Bateman do manage to squeeze some laughs out of the mostly dull material though). Then when the film gets to the cheesy stuff, the heart of the film and the real character development, it actually starts to work! The directing gets a little better, the performances start to shine through and the writing begins to polish itself out. It takes half a film to get there but ‘THE CHANGE-UP’ is mostly worth the effort.
The film is directed by David Dobkin (who also directed the popular buddy films ‘WEDDING CRASHERS’ and ‘SHANGHAI KNIGHTS’). It’s written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (part of the team behind ‘THE HANGOVER’). All of the ingredients are there for the perfect juvenile male bonding adventure but I think the ‘body switching’ formula kind of dooms the film a little from the start (at least in the start). It revolves around two best friends, Mitch (Reynolds) and Dave (Bateman), who have grown apart due to their lives taking vastly different paths. Both men envy the other though and when they wish for each other’s lives while pissing in a fountain one night their wishes come true. Leslie Mann (otherwise known as Mrs. Apatow) and Olivia Wilde co-star as the men’s two love interests, one is Dave’s wife and the other is his co-worker. Things of course get very complicated and trouble ensues (which then of course leads to emotional evolvement and surprisingly strong character growth).
The film really does make you care for it’s two lead characters and watching their emotional growth does really work. That’s thanks in part to the directing and somewhat well written screenplay but more so Reynold’s and Bateman’s performances (I think). They’ve proved that they not only have a knack for comedic timing but also dramatic chops when given the right material as well. With this film when the drama kicks in the comedy also picks up and flows better. At first the jokes are pretty standard and overused (they’re also extremely crude and disturbing) but as the characters start to get more interesting and involving the jokes get funnier and more meaningful as well. If you’re a Ryan Reynolds or Jason Bateman fan (or a fan of body switching movies) you’ll almost certainly enjoy this film at least some what, despite it’s rocky take off.