Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Change-Up - Movie Review


Starring Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, Gregory Itzin and Craig Bierko. Directed by David Dobkin.

Freaky Friday. Switch. Like Father Like Son. Vice Versa. 18 Again. 17 Again. 13 Going on 30. Big. Dream A Little Dream. Face/Off.

Body-switching movies have been a staple of movies of late, drawing inspiration from Shakespeare's disguise comedies to Twain's The Prince and the Pauper. It has limitless possibilities in humor, in situations, but the actors and the writers have to be good to set it apart from the pack.

What surprised me most was how different Reynolds and Bateman actually are, and how much fun they have taking on the other's persona. Reynolds plays Mitch, an aspiring-actor slacker ladies-man man-child airhead. Bateman is the hard-working husband, father, lawyer Dave who still enjoys Mitch in his life because they can go get drunk together, and Dave can live vicariously through hearing of Mitch's single-life exploits.

One fateful night, they get drunk and go pee in a fountain while wishing they had the other one's life, and the next morning, hijinks ensue.

This movie goes to some gross places, and that's its biggest weakness. Vulgarity for its own sake is not funny, and it undermines the sweetness they try to being full-circle in the third act. I will also say there is some CGI manipulation with Dave's twin babies that lands on the believability spectrum somewhere between Baby Geniuses and the E-Trade commercials. I know it's odd to bring up believability in a body-switching movie, but I will give the movie the laws of the universe its sets up for itself. I will give you a magic fountain that can switch bodies; I can't give you a six-month-old that can swish a knife around like a ninja.

The supporting cast is able to have some fun too. Leslie Mann has solid comedic and dramatic reactions to the changes in her husband, and Olivia Wilde is the object of desire at work who reveals a whole different side to herself when she agress to go out with "Mitch." Gregory Itzin (24) does the late Ted Knight proud as he bulges his eyes at the outrageousness "Dave" displays at work.

There's a lot here that's fun, and funny, and it's tragic to me that those parts are grafted in to terrible choices that drag it down.

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