Jason Bateman plays an excellent Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Reynolds plays an excellent Jason Bateman in this latest body switching film, The Change-Up. The premise has been done a thousand times before, but it has never turned out as funny as The Change-Up. I will warn viewers that this is really an R-rated movie. It compacts as much cursing and nudity that you can possibly fit in an R-rating and boy is it funny! It’s not really anything original or something you’ve just been dying to see, but it’s really damn funny and that’s all that matters when you’re expecting a comedy. Horrible Bosses was supposed to be the perfect R-rated summer comedy fix and that managed to be very unfunny and just flat out boring. The Change-Up on the other hand will have you laughing the whole running time!
Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman) is your everyday married man. He works an abundance of hours every week, while balancing his wife and kids. He’s always been like that his whole life, always trying to overachieve and make himself happy, but it usually ends in him wanting more. He’s a successful lawyer at a firm that is about to close a big deal, the one he has been working at for the past 10 years. Things are finally starting to piece together for him. On the other hand you have his best friend Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds). Mitch is that friend who hasn’t done shit all of his life. He dropped out of high school to become an actor and that really isn’t going anywhere for him. He sits at home and smokes weed, plays X-Box and just sort of does whatever he wants, when he wants. He’s a kid in a grownup body and someone who always quits when the going gets tough, perfect opposite of Dave.
The two get together for drinks over a game and one thing leads to another and all of a sudden each man, drunk, is wishing they had the other man’s life. Dave wishes things could be simple and easy again while Mitch wishes he had a loving and caring family. They wind up at a park standing in front of an old fountain. They decide to piss into the fountain while wishing for each other’s lives. A massive power outage takes place; things flicker and magic noise all help describe this silly event.
The next morning they wake up in each other’s bodies and hilarity ensues. One refreshing note is that they do try and find the fountain to change things back right away, but it’s currently being relocated, and no one at the government office can seem to figure out where it is. They only know that it will probably show up in the computer system within the next 3 days or even 3 weeks. Thus Dave and Mitch must live each other’s lives. Dave is almost done with a huge deal at work and Mitch just got his first small acting gig and both men don’t trust each other enough to screw it up, but they don’t really have many options! The rest of the film follows each man as they live the other life. The Change-Up is full of some really hilarious moments, watching the other guy live his best friends life and it also contains a few genuine life lesson scenes. The film never takes itself too seriously, but it does find a reason to exist.
What really drove this film were the performances by both Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds. Each character seemed to pretty much be how the actor normally is. Jason Bateman is that successful guy who is always nervous and use to people pushing him around. He’s nice, but kind of a pussy. On the other hand, Ryan Reynolds is that cocky and self -onfident person who is fun to be around because he’s always cracking dirty jokes and sleeping with tons of hot women. Each man fits the bill perfectly and once the switch happens it continues to work.
Jason Bateman totally nails the image of Ryan Reynolds. Watching him interact with kids was hilarious. He doesn’t know how to really be serious at any given time. He’s always dressing like an idiot, using a foul mouth and generally not caring about a thing in the world. This is really good because Bateman has been doing a lot of the same over the past years. He’s a great actor, but he really needs to break out of his shell a little bit. Horrible Bosses and Extract weren’t exactly different in terms of how Bateman played his roles, but at least he branched out a little in Paul. With The Change-Up he fully embraces the other side, a side that we never get to see him play and it’s just so damn funny and awkward.
Ryan Reynolds also tackles his opposite’s role, by playing a calm and twitchy Jason Bateman. He no longer has any confidence and is usually trying to over analyze everything. It’s so weird watching a man that can usually get easy laughs from the audience by doing something incredibly stupid, magically become a man that only gets laughs from you by just doing something normal. Everything Reynolds does feels like a spot on Jason Bateman moment and it too is hilarious.
I don’t know how they did it, but they really do capture each other’s likeness to perfection. It honestly felt like they spent a year living with each other, studying each other’s every move. Reynolds and Bateman have successfully managed to impersonate each other and that is the main reason this film works, because both actors are funny in their own respect, but watching them play each other is even better. Now you finally get to see Bateman let loose and Reynolds hold back. It’s a perfect switch!
Olivia Wilde must have read my latest Fuck You column because boy does she not send off the hate vibes in The Change-Up. Instead of playing the generic side character, she instead becomes that sexy woman you wish you could sleep with. Sabrina is Dave’s assistant at the firm. When Bateman is playing Dave, he simply talks to Sabrina in the hallway or before a big case. But when Reynolds is playing Dave, he is constantly dropping jokes towards Sabrina and her extremely good looks. Almost to the point of sexual harassment charges, but it’s later revealed when Mitch, played in Bateman mode, is on a date with her, that she really loves her job and will do anything to keep it. It’s on this date that Sabrina really lets loose and shows that she’s a bit of a crazy girl, nothing extreme like Jennifer Aniston in Horrible Bosses, but definitely more than meets the eye.
She took what could have been a boring and pointless role and managed to make it funny and totally hot. I’ve never seen this dangerous side of her and it shows that she can serve a purpose in a film! Maybe not the starring role of an Oscar worthy art house film, but maybe she can be that new version of bold and sexy? Who knows?
The rest of the cast has their moments, including Leslie Mann. Mann has always had the same shtick since The 40 Year Old Virgin. Before that, she wasn’t much different, but it feels like ever since that particular film she sort of elevated herself. She’s funny with her odd bits of dialogue that come out of nowhere, but she really doesn’t do anything different.
The film is enjoyable and silly, mainly because of the perfect switch of actors. Director David Dobkin hit the jackpot when he found Reynolds and Bateman for the leading roles. Each man represents the total opposite and it’s really fun watching them switch it up. The jokes always felt funny and never fell flat. The whole situation felt silly and lighthearted, but luckily they never try to dig deep and find too much serious meaning. It’s your usual film of people not appreciating what they have until it’s gone. They don’t waste too much time on the emotional stuff, which is good because this is supposed to be a fun summer romp, nothing more and certainty nothing less.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Change-Up. It felt like exactly what I needed. It’s the perfect way to start wrapping up the summer for R-rated comedies. It’s nothing amazing or perfect by any means, but it doesn’t disappoint in the laughs category like Horrible Bosses. It’s a great way to kill 2 hours due to the overall likeness of both leads. Ryan Reynolds plays a perfect Jason Bateman and Jason Bateman plays a killer Ryan Reynolds. It’s because of these two playing each other perfectly that this film can be so enjoyable. The rest of the supporting cast is good, but they never become more than supporting characters. The underlying message is there, but it never tries to become anything too serious. It’s simple, fun and even dark at times!
The Change-Up – 8/10