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"The Change-Up" Review

Summarizing The Change-Up is easy: It's Hall Pass meets Freaky Friday with dudes. Jason Bateman is a happily-married father of three who is on the verge of becoming partner at his law firm. (He's Owen Wilson's Hall Pass character crossed with his part in Horrible Bosses.) Ryan Reynolds is a stoner slacker, a permanent man-child who's been Bateman's best friend since 3rd grade (as the script helpfully tells us.) One night, after drinking and having a mutual case of grass-is-always-greener-over-there-itis, they pee into a magic fountain while wishing they had each other's lives and wake up in each other's bodies. Hijinks ensue.

I was never really able to get on board with The Change-Up for some reason. The whole time it felt off-kilter and choppy and frankly I'm bored stupid with poop humor. In the first minute we're treated to a close-up of a baby boy's CGI-enhanced farting butt presaging a torrent of chocolate pudding poo blasting all over Bateman's face. So funny. Not. (Has any movie with a baby-changing scene passed up having some hapless chump peed/pooped upon? Grow up, Hollyweird!) It goes slightly uphill from there, but it never strays far from the toilet. What ever happened to people getting punched in the junk? That's still slightly amusing.

The episodic nature of the "story" isn't helped by the overall familiarity of the bits. Will Ryan in Jason's body screw up the big deal, but redeem himself? Duh. Will Jason in Ryan's body be appalled at the Skinemax "lorno" movie he has to perform in? (BTW, if it's fake porn, why does he have to stick his thumb up the terrifying actress' butt?) When Jason/Ryan gets to go out with the smoking hot Olivia Wilde, a law associate at his office, will he ultimately punk out because he misses his wife and family? Yawn...

There is one scene where they attempt to tell Jason's wife, Leslie "Mrs. Judd Apatow" Mann, about the body switch when they try to use the "Ask me something only I'd know" gambit and (surprise!) Jason doesn't know his wife while silly Ryan/Jason knows. That this predictable bit happens isn't the problem; that a while later Leslie cries to Ryan/Jason about how weird Jason/Ryan is behaving and she's afraid he doesn't love her and never stops to think that it may be because THEY'RE IN EACH OTHER'S BODIES is a problem. It's as if no one read the whole script and spotted that nothing aligned. Another problem is that the performances aren't as defined as they need to be. When we look at Jason and Ryan, we never really think we're seeing Ryan and Jason's characters.

All these complaints make it sound like I hated The Change-Up, but I didn't. I just found it lumpy, lazy and mostly obvious. What is good? Olivia Wilde's hottie hot girl co-worker. When she goes out on non-date with Ryan/Jason and suggests that they keep doing stuff because it's still early, I was hoping she'd suggest they go kill hobos because that would've been HAWT!! (Ahem.) Like she did in TRON Legacy, Wilde manages to make a flatly-written character fascinating. Mann is also good, though there's no way she did that nudity; she's never done it before and while she's a very attractive woman, the boobs they CGI onto her body are from a girl half her 39 years. CGI is also utilized for some funny stuff involving Jason's babies. However most of the humor is mostly shock-based. (I guess simply writing funny stuff is too difficult for Hollywood these days.)

I've given an extra point to the score for Olivia Wilde and to compensate for any possibility I may've been out of sorts and thus not appreciating the true awesomeness of The Change-Up, but no matter how you slice it, it's a wait for cable flick.

UPDATE: After further consideration, I've decided to knock it back down a point to an unadjusted 5/10. It's just too much of a mess.

Score: 5/10. Catch it on cable.


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