CHANGE UP, THE
Best friends since childhood Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) and Dave (Jason Bateman) have drifted apart in recent years. Mitch has remained a single, sometimes employed man-child who has avoided responsibility and can't finish anything he starts, from jobs to relationships. But he has lots of superficial fun. Dave has a beautiful wife Jamie (Leslie Mann), kids who adore him and a well paid job at a prestigious law firm. During a night on the town together, they wish they could swap lives - and thanks to the mysteries of a stone fountain, they wake up with their wish fulfilled. That's when their troubles begin as their new lives in each other's bodies unravel and force them to face up to what they really want.
Review by Louise Keller:
It's a well tried formula, but The Change Up feels as fresh as a new pair of diapers, in this upbeat body switch movie in which a workaholic lawyer and his dope-smoking best friend find themselves literally in each other's shoes. Justin Bateman plays an ambitious career person who has forgotten how to enjoy his family life while Ryan Reynolds is the body-beautiful part-time actor who spends all his time on recreation. Toilet humour, masturbation, bare breasts, gross out and the juxtaposition of unlikely situations are all part of the funny and often crass script penned by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore and filled with home truths. The credibility of the two leading men whose lusts for life are re-examined plays its part in the success of the film.
When we first meet Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman) in the wee small hours of the morning, he is fully immersed in nappy changing duties and feeding his baby twins, taking every tricky moment in his stride. He's a natural, which is more than we can say for his best friend Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds), who doesn't have a clue when it comes to looking after kids, thinking that it's cool to toss them into the air or park them on the kitchen bench, close to the set of carving knives. Key to the film's twist is the establishment of both characters in their respective lifestyles and director David Dobkin does this carefully, showing enough of both Dave and Mitch in their everyday lives so that we feel as though we know who they are.
When the body switch occurs - as Dave and Mitch are relieving themselves in a fountain after a boozy night watching the game - our appetite has been whetted for the hilarity to come. At the same moment, they genuinely wish they could swap lives - a wish they quickly regret. Mitch (in Dave's body) has Dave's lovely wife Jamie (Leslie Mann) to contend with plus dialogue night; children's issues and a contentious company merger which promises a partnership in the firm. Dave (in Mitch's body) finds himself turning up for an acting role in Room 69 with a dubious East European film director and a big busted starlet who has seen better days. There's a funny subplot involving Dave's colleague, the luscious Sabrina (Olivia Wilde), who Dave has admired from afar, and who becomes matched with Mitch - except that Mitch is really Dave, and Dave is confused because he really loves his wife. Get the picture? Look out for Alan Arkin as Mitch's estranged father.
Bateman and Reynolds deliver in spades with strong support by Mann as the insecure wife whose husband lives to work and Wilde, the tattooed, wild-child Sabrina who likes 25 year old Macallan and a degustation of deserts for a sugar hit. Needless to say things work out for the best, but along the way there are surprises, a swag of laughs, some cringes and home truths are splattered high and low. Guaranteed laughs for a feel-good change-up.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Be careful what you wish for is one of the messages of body switch comedies down the years, whether man to woman, man to boy or married buddy to single buddy, as here. We all connect to the notion that the grass is always greener on the other side, and we understand why this switch seems so appealing to both Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) and Dave (Jason Bateman).
The key attraction for an audience is the pain and embarrassment the characters - and their family, friends - may have to go through on the journey of discovery toward self awareness. But the real key to the film's success is the tone: this will determine what sort of audience appeal it has. The Change Up has a tone that appeals to audiences who crave crude, toilet based humour with as many mentions of penis or balls as the script can manage, as much titillation as it can muster. The first big laugh is Dave getting a face full of poo from his baby son. The film should do well at the box office.
On its own terms, then, The Change Up manages to maintain its deliberately lowered tone and put its characters through a variety of awkward situations, lowbrow jokes and vulgarities until it seems the screen has indeed pooed on us the audience.
Maybe it's just me, but to see beautiful Olivia Williams or Leslie Mann descending to the ribald riffs of this screenplay is especially unsettling. On the other hand, they bring some heart to a film that often prefers the overstated cheap laugh to any sense of credible character or situation. It's all too obvious.
So that's the deal; it's a real pizza and beer movie, raucous and tasteless. But to bring us out of the film, it goes for schmaltz, that old safeguard used by filmmakers who want to earn our thanks for showing human nature to be soft and gooey, after showing us that it's just soft and gooey as in child poo.
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CHANGE UP, THE (MA15+)
CAST: Olivia Wilde, Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Mircea Monroe, Alan Arkin, Anna Colwell, Andrea Moore,
PRODUCER: David Dobkin, Neal H. Moritz
DIRECTOR: David Dobkin
SCRIPT: John Lucas, Scott Moore
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Eric Alan Edwards
MUSIC: John Debney
RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 8, 2011