A comedy in which a married father accidentally switches bodies with his best friend, leading to a series of wildly complex difficulties.
Think of this movie as Dirty, Freaky Friday and you’re on the right track. Ryan Reynolds plays Mitch–a lazy and unsuccessful actor who is ambitious in one area only, bedding numerous women. His career is going so badly that he takes on parts in “Lornos” or “light pornos”. He has grown apart from his best friend Dave (Bateman) a hardworking business type who is married, has a six-year-old daughter and new-born twins. The family lives in a big house in the suburbs.
By any usual measure, Dave is living the dream and Mitch is a washed up loser. But this is a Hollywood film and the writers work hard to create a false equivalency between the emotionally empty life of Mitch and the overly-scheduled life of Dave. Hard-working Dave wishes he could have a moment to himself. He also envies all the sex Mitch is getting compared to the almost none he has. Mitch is having too much of a good time to actually want Dave’s life, but somehow, he has a moment where he wishes out loud that he had what Dave has. Dave does the same. Fortunately the two friends are having a slash in a magic fountain at the time and somehow their wizz-wish comes true.
Smash cut to Dave waking up as Mitch and Mitch waking up as Dave. And the stage is set for hi-jinks, hilarity, comic misadventures and misunderstandings the like of which you’ve seen before. Numerous times. But because Reynolds and Bateman are very funny actors and writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore are responsible for The Hangover 1 & 2, there’s a level of talent and professionalism at work here that very nearly carries this over the line. Very nearly.
Parents of young children may feel for Dave and his wife Jamie. So there’s an attempt to create some kind of emotionally relatable scenario for the audience. But mostly this is about the fun the audience will have watching the clueless Mitch look after young children and attempt to have sex with his best friend’s wife. Or seeing Dave try to deal with Mitch’s ridiculous love life, his estranged relationship with his father (Alan Arkin) and date his own hot assistant (Wilde) which he couldn’t do normally because he’s married. This is all wrapped up in lashings of cussing and bad-taste comedy concepts involving farting, baby poo, pregnant sex, geriatric sex and public urination.
These elements can be found in many an Apatow Imitation Comedy (AIC™). This is yet another of that genre. I believe I have been a too harsh on real Judd Apatow films in the past; they are more entertaining than their knock-offs. THE CHANGE UP runs on formulaic raunchiness. Perhaps having seen HORRIBLE BOSSES yet another AIC™ so recently, this movie came off second best.
An interesting side note is the real life Mrs Apatow, the lovely Leslie Mann, plays Dave’s wife, the unhappy Jamie. Fans of this style of comedy film will have seen Mann in other Apatows and earlier in Adam Sandler movies. She is a funny and talented actor who never quite cracks a role worthy of her gifts. Interestingly, she carries more or less the entire emotional line of this film single-handedly. She makes you believe that she and Dave have been in trouble for some time; without the strength of her performance, most of Dave’s story wouldn’t fire.
The audience I saw THE CHANGE UP with, laughed hard and all the way through. The movie is utterly undemanding, predictable and slickly made. It won’t stay in your memory, but will likely keep you amused for its 112-minute length. If you fancy yourself some Ryan Reynolds or Olivia Wilde along with poopy diaper gags and a bunch of edgily offensive comic dialogue, this could be your weekend movie. The CHANGE-UP is open in Australia now. I rated it 2.5/5
See the trailer here