Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Change-Up

Just as a concept, I actually think The Change-Up could be something that is very funny. An R-rated body switching comedy with Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman? That might, just might, actually be really really really good. This movie is instead an immature immitation of the kind of modern comedies that I enjoy. Which is odd because director David Dobkin made Wedding Crashers and writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore made The Hangover. How could this movie go wrong? Apparently, the obvious answer is- easily.

The films is about two friends. Mitch (Reynolds) is irresponsible, but wants success. Dave (Bateman) is too driven, but wants some freedom. One day they pee in a magical fountain and suddenly they wake up in each other's bodies. Now like most body switching comedies, they must learn the true meaning and the value of living the best lives they can live... or some shit like that. This movie actually seems like it forgot its own message somewhere in the middle and then again towards the end where scenes are just drawn out and jokes aren't even being told that often. Adam McKay, who makes some of the most brilliantly absurdist comedies, even he has a message or theme to his work. I should've been clued into how bad this movie was going to be when right from the start, Dave's infant children are replaced with CGI for scenes where they either poo or throw knives.

This kind of film only tends to work when the characters are not complete polar opposities of each other to the point where they actually become stereotypes or charactertures. Which is a shame because in this case that extends to the supporting characters (played by Olivia Wilde, Leslie Mann, and Alan Arkin). The plot is also ridiculous enough that as it starts to get even more and more outrageous, you sort of have to give up on understanding one's motivation and reasoning. For example, asking "why is Dave's wife and co-workers not calling a psych ward when a perfectly reasonable man is now acting like a sex-crazed maniac?" is something that went right out the window the second fountain peeing and CGI poop came into the story.

The gimmick of Reynolds playing the straight guy and Bateman playing the wild guy is fun to watch for a brief while. Both actors have played a variety of collected or opinionated characters in their careers, but even then it becomes weary having to watch them play "each other" during a film where with every joke you find yourself saying, "well that could've been funny." I was hoping for the Judd Apatow version of Big or Peggy Sue Got Married. Instead I have a movie where I'm scared to look up how much money it cost to make something that amounted to... this.

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