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The Change-Up - Review

The Change-Up

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

THE body swap comedy gets an R-rated makeover for this hit-and-miss pairing of Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman that sometimes tries too hard to be outrageous while sticking a little too rigidly to formula.

Penned by the guys that wrote The Hangover and directed by David (Wedding Crashers) Dobkin, the film offers plenty of rude laugh-out loud humour and some nice observations on the nightmares of raising kids.

But it also flies dangerously close to being misogynistic at other points, while also relying one time too many on absurd CGI-enhanced baby comedy (more on that later).

Reynolds and Bateman play best friends Mitch and Dave… the former a womanising man-boy who lacks any direction in life; the latter a married father struggling to maintain a healthy, restful work-life balance.

After a night on the town that results in them pissing in a fountain, Mitch and Dave swap bodies (and lives) and quickly find that the grass isn’t always greener… For Mitch, it’s time to raise the kids and keep a high-powered career on track in the hope of getting a long-awaited promotion, while for Dave it’s about honouring and protecting his friend’s playboy existence no matter how depraved and debauched things become.

To be fair, you have to begrudgingly admire the film for taking a genre more traditionally known for family friendly touchy-feely stuff and giving it a testosterone-driven makeover.

But while certainly amusing in places, there are problems that the film fails to completely escape. Reynolds’ Mitch, for instance, is such a lazy, self-obsessed slacker that it’s difficult to know why he’s still friends with Dave in the first place, while some of the sexual shenanigans Dave subsequently finds himself in are pushing the boundaries of good taste.

In that regard, both Olivia Wilde and Leslie Mann are also short-changed in the character development stakes – the former prone to offering herself for a one-night stand that blatantly uses a body double and feels out of keeping with her character, the latter forced to resort to crass toilet humour to illustrate the ‘reality’ of married home life.

What’s worse, several of the gags involving Dave’s baby kids rely on the use of CGI or animatronics as one repeatedly bashes its head against a cot during night-time changing sessions, while both play havoc in the kitchen with sharp cooking implements and electrical sockets. Both sequences look risibly fake and kind of labour the comedic point that Dobkin is trying to make (and that’s even after Dave has been squirted in the face and mouth with poo).

Ironically, it’s during the subtler situation comedy or when involving the snappy interplay between Reynolds and Bateman that the film works best and what prevents The Change-Up from emerging as a complete disaster.

But given the comedy pedigree of everyone concerned, there are a few too many things that need changing for the better to make this really worth recommending to the masses unless juvenile, unrealistic lads’ humour is your thing.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 112mins
UK Release Date: September 16, 2011