For the past few weeks I have agonizingly pouted over email after email announcing upcoming screenings that I could not make it to in my broken state, so by the time The Change-Up rolled around I was at my breaking point. With the giddiness of a child refusing to stop believing in Santa come Christmas Day I sat in my seat waiting for the movie to begin. Unfortunately I should have taken one more week off…
The Change-Up brings nothing new to the film industry story wise, dusting off the “let’s have two wildly different characters body swap” premise. The reason this repeated premise didn’t scare me away from looking forward to this movie was thanks in large part to the cast. This time around the always entertaining Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman bring their comedy chops to the table as long time best friends who drunkenly wish for each other’s lives as they pee into a fountain. Clearly no one on this creative team saw When In Rome, because this was exhibit A of the evidence foreshadowing the downward spiral. But the fountain remains, and come the following morning the characters find themselves in the wrong body.
Now that I think about it that fountain was actually closer to exhibit E among the large quantity of troubling moments that had already made their appearance. First problem? Maybe in an attempt to compete with Rise of the Planet of the Apes at the box office this weekend some CGI is worked into the movie early on in the form of a self-abusive baby and baby butt holes. That’s right, money was wasted on showing a baby’s butt hole quivering in anticipation for the poop that was about to explode from its opening.
Weak starts are not uncommon to many great films (I still get really off put by the ridiculously hyper first part of Moulin Rouge!), but this film continues with the immature humor that just doesn’t live up to some of the more sophisticated comedies of today. Now I love poop jokes as much as the next person, but lets go the “It’s happening!” Bridesmaids route and avoid the obvious fart noises and water plops. Babies poop, we get it; women poop to the shock and horror of men everywhere, isn’t there something else we can tap into for laughs? If you are hoping the answer is yes then it’s time to look elsewhere. On top of the bodily functions The Change-Up is stuffed full of other worn comedy bits to help push this film into the R rating that will “set it apart” from the other films with this story. In other words, there is a lot of cussing, awkward sexual encounters (both with and without partners), pot smoking, sexual harassment, and nudity. And I am not talking Reynolds’ rippling abs, but boob shot after unnecessary boob shot, including a partial view of CGI Olivia Wilde nipple.
As degraded as I felt as a woman watching this movie as it continued, thanks in large part to how the character Mitch talked to/about and objectified women, it was actually Leslie Mann who had the best moment in the film for me. As these films do, the two people who have swapped places always come to some realization about their life and how they can change it for the better, or why their life is so much better now that they can see it from the outside, but in all honesty I just didn’t feel for the main characters and really didn’t think they deserved these Hollywood endings as I spent more and more time with them. In other words I had no real emotional pull towards the leads. Instead it was only with Mann’s performance of a neglected wife opening up to who she believes to be her husband’s best friend that I felt anywhere near being choked up by the plight of the characters. Yes Reynolds and Bateman deliver the great performances we have come to expect from them, but their characters are just too poorly formed to really care about.
Watching the attempt of adding heart to the immaturity of humor in The Change-Up was like watching someone pretending to hump the back of a girl who is unknowingly being victimized as she sobs through a story of her recent cancer diagnosis. It just doesn’t work, which can be said for the majority of the film in general.
Final Grade: C-