I love it when movie reviews are easy to write. Here’s all you really need to know about The Change-Up:
- This is yet another body swap plot, but it’s an R rated one, which is rare for this cliché.
- It’s pretty raunchy, so it’s not a wise first date movie, though it can be really funny at times.
- Adult humor is fun, but at times they swear just for fun and it starts to get annoying.
- There’s an absolutely hilarious iPhone joke.
- Olivia Wilde topless scene actually uses CGI nipples, but Leslie Mann’s many naked scenes are real.
- It constantly shatters the suspension of disbelief, which is a major momentum killer.
You don’t really need to know much more than that, but for the full details, keep reading for the entire review.
For a body swap plot, this film actually brings quite the strong cast. The main focus is on Jason Bateman (Dave Lockwood) and Ryan Reynolds (Mitch Planko), and the story wasn’t developed enough to have Olivia Wilde seen or utilized much in the first half of the film, but thankfully Leslie Mann stays relevant from start to finish. I have yet to see her fail to effortlessly bring a role exactly what it needs, and The Change-Up is no exception. To me, she still looks as gorgeous as she did a decade ago, so I think her nudity in this film is the Hollywood trend of showing off your youthful body before it starts to disappear with age. [Edit: Leslie Mann boobs and ass may be a lie!] Being able to match and even overcome Olivia Wilde in the sex appeal in this film was definitely a surprise, but the writers of The Hangover – Jon Lucas and Scott Moore – could have put more effort into Olivia’s character.
As for the two main characters, it actually was a little confusing at times. I’m used to seeing the body swap thing done with an adult and a kid, so it’s always distinctly obvious what’s going on. Since the age gap isn’t far between these two, sometimes I forgot that Bateman wasn’t supposed to be Bateman, but what was far more jarring was the script’s insistence on including blatantly not real scenes. Projectile bodily functions are uncomfortable and petty, but allowable; seeing one-year-old babies throw CGI cleavers across half the kitchen at the speed of sound is not. This is made more painful by the fact that the writers try so hard to be believable in some scenes, and when the two men try to spill the beans to the wife it’s actually handled exceptionally well, which leaves me baffled how little they cared about believability for the majority of the movie.
As abhorrent as this is, Ryan’s carefree wannabe actor fill-in for the father is fatally flawed in every scene. The extent to which he’s clueless or careless is either annoying or downright fake. Almost no one at any age would nonchalantly place kids on countertops next to sharp objects and then walk away. They wouldn’t verbally abuse their pseudo wife and family at dinner, steal the food from the dinner table, and walk away while the mother is in tears. Surely some people like that exist, but that’s not a role Ryan Reynolds could or should play, and the writing doesn’t back it up anyways: a vain pothead persona doesn’t equate to someone who’s willing to let his best friend’s kids potentially die every other scene. It doesn’t work on any level.
For the first half we see Bateman with a stronger and logical foundation in the script, but eventually even he also falls apart. If your vain pothead friend is in your body and is responsible for multimillion dollar legal deals, you don’t just give him a three minute crash course guide and then let him loose for a few days. Bateman is legitimately concerned for the first entire day or two, but then just shrugs it off and assumes he’ll take care of everything. Sorry, a montage might bullshit the audience into believing it, but it still shouldn’t bullshit Bateman into believing Reynolds is capable. Despite not liking these character choices, Bateman at least gets challenged as an actor, whereas we don’t see much effort from Ryan Reynolds.
I usually don’t mind excessive swearing, but this film used it pointlessly so often that it bothered me. The superfluous profanity didn’t diminish the jokes they were attached to though: The Change-Up will have you laughing hard a few times. The awkward positions a father is put into while he tries to live the life of an unemployed pothead actor are mostly fun, but even without the many drawbacks I’ve already stated, The Change-Up was never destined to be anyone’s favorite film of the year, let alone the summer. It’s good Netflix fodder for friends on a Friday night, but unless you don’t mind awkward and annoying parts placed before and after every single funny scene, then I suggest skipping this for now and instead hitting up something else on our Summer Movie Guide checklist.
Overall Score: 5.70 – Bad. (5s are movies that either failed at reaching the goals it set out to do, or didn’t set out to do anything special and still had many flaws. Some will enjoy 5s, but unless you’re a fan of this genre, you shouldn’t see it, and might not even want to rent it.)
Matthew Razak: 6.50 – Though it starts off rocky with not only one of the most cliche plots in film, but also an opening sequence that had me dreading the rest of the film because of stale poop jokes the charm of Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman actually pull the movie out of mediocrity. The two actors play off each other incredibly well and it’s great to see Bateman act as the asshole instead of the straight man. After a few stumbles in the opening with some truly bad humor, the funny actually starts to chug along and by the end of the movie you’ve had some surprisingly original laughs. It’s rote plot and predictability isn’t completely overcome by Reynolds and Bateman, but the two make a tired film into an enjoyable one.