A "Change-Up" is needed

Aug. 8, 2011, 8:47 p.m. | By Brittany Cheng | 12 years, 1 month ago

A mix-up of priorities causes the script to fail the movie despite great acting

From the director of "Wedding Crashers" and the writers of "The Hangover" comes a body-swap comedy that was sure to be a match made in heaven (think "Hangover" meets "Freaky Friday" and a cute "bromance" to boot). But weak writing, a few tasteless jokes and lack of focus turned "The Change-Up" into a raunchy – albeit amusing at times — mess.

The story follows the lives of two life-long friends who are unhappy with their lives. Dave (Jason Bateman), a workaholic lawyer who's married with three kids, is jealous of unattached Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) due to his responsibility-free lifestyle. On the other hand, Mitch wants everything Dave has: a beautiful wife (Leslie Mann), loving children and a fat paycheck. After a night out at the bar the two stop to urinate at a fountain in the park — only to realize their mistake the following morning when they wake up in each other's body.

The writers certainly have fun with the script by stretching the limit of the movie's "R" rating and coming very close to becoming "NC-17." There seems to be a common theme of dropping, as the plot is littered with instances of the characters dropping feces, expletives and clothes at every opportunity. At first glance, these seem like regular additions to a great comedy, but the multiple repeats of potty humor are overkill. The plot also seems to demoralize the movie's women, since every adult actress is required to strip at one point or another.

Along with its omnipresent scatological humor and pervasive profanities, the movie becomes confused as to which genre it is halfway through the story. It's a comedy – no, wait – drama? It could be a drama, since problems between spouses and estranged father-son relationships make their presence known at random intervals throughout the movie. But this genre fails to work as character development is minimal. There is no explanation as to why Mitch never matured or became as successful as Dave, nor is there a reason for the strained relationship between Mitch and his father.

If "The Change-Up" was meant to be a light-comedy, the weak sub-plots are unnecessary. Conversely, if the second half of the film was supposed to be a little more serious where both lead characters mature from the body-swap experience, it should not have been so much potty humor. Together, the two halves make a recipe for a mess.

But if you wipe the feces and expletives away, you'll find the movie's most redeeming factor is the cast. The actors are charming enough to give audiences genuine laughs, despite the poor script they had to work with. Dave is quite likeable to start with, which allows Reynolds to tap into an endearing personality reminiscent to his character, Andrew, in "The Proposal." Bateman, on the other hand, steps out of his comfort zone to play a character so brash and unlike those he has portrayed in the past that it becomes a treat. It also turns out the two actors have strong "bromantic" chemistry, which distracts from the fact that they're actually seven years apart in age.

Unfortunately, good acting alone can't miraculously fix all of the movie's other problems, as "The Change-Up" could use exactly what its title suggests. With an old plot, old jokes and old faces, it seems as though the producers were attempting to recreate the success of predecessors, rather than set a precedent themselves. Good thing "The Change-Up" is a feel-good movie and is not looking to win an Academy Award anytime soon.

"The Change-Up" (112 minutes) is rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content, graphic nudity and some drug use. Now playing in theaters everywhere.

Tags: ryan reynolds jason bateman the change up

Brittany Cheng. <br>Brittany Cheng ('13) served as co-Editor-in-Chief of Silver Chips Online (SCO) with <a href = "http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/staff/698">Langston Taylor</a> during the 2012-2013 school year. During their tenure, Cheng and Taylor led the site's front page makeover with technical staff members Prashan Dharmasena and Jessica Shi, incorporated live-blogging … More »

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