As summer slowly begins to fizzle out so do the blockbusters that predictably come with it. Movies of every caliber were released in the last couple months, either in the form of a popular comic superhero series or a mindless CGI assault to the brain. But this summer was rare when it came to the field of comedy; for the most part it was very successful.
Bridesmaids was a sleeper hit with both genders (just admit it guys), Bad Teacher had its moments of hilarity due to Diaz chewing up the screen and Hangover 2 made lots of money despite being an exact retread of its predecessor. The other two big releases were also surprisingly good, Horrible Bosses was chalk full of wonderful casting and Friends With Benefits was a mature formulaic rom-com with playful chemistry between its two leads.
Then of course there’s the last comedy release of the summer, The Change-Up, which is just as foul-mouthed and inappropriate as anything listed above but without any worthwhile redeeming factors. It sports a premise that has been reused to death in films over the decades and the only new coat of fresh paint it has is in its excess of nudity and vulgarity.
It’s too bad, because this summer had more than its share of plentiful laughs and The Change-Up is in a different league of lowbrow humor altogether. The actors do the best attempts at squeezing through the picture with their dignity mostly still intact but the movie will ultimately leave you walking away with a bad taste in your mouth.
Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds star as best buds since childhood who are both unhappy with where their lives have taken them. They aren’t depressed, just unfulfilled in the grand scheme of things. Reynolds is a low-budget soft core porn actor whose lifestyle is that of a pothead slacker while Bateman – once again – is a hard working father who can’t remember the last time he truly had fun without his family getting in the way.
After a night of drinking and confessing to each other that they would swap lives, they make the timely mistake of saying “I wish” at the same moment. Through the magic of movies and the public urination in a fountain, both Reynolds and Bateman switch bodies, much to their initial dismay.
It takes a while to get adjusted to the hard partying Reynolds now being in the calm form of Bateman and the same can be said the other way around. Once everything settles into place, the plot doesn’t take any new chances with the material and instead vows to proclaim the use of the R rating for full effect.
Seriously, if the trailers for The Change-Up looked bad it’s because there is barely any PG footage to show that doesn’t showcase nudity or swearing. This is one of the foulest mainstream films to be released in a while and even when it enters the territory of reconciliation and heartfelt understanding towards the climax, another poop joke is uttered that returns the proceedings back to its immature level. Still, in this day and age you can’t get that upset when a comedy doesn’t show you all the funny bits in the movie trailers. That’s about the only real thing that is in The Change-Up’s favor other than a lot of naked women on display to ogle at.
The supporting roles here are basically devoted to the women in the film, who are solely around to boost a larger female attendance since The Change-Up is being marketed heavily as a buddy comedy. Leslie Mann – once again – plays the high strung and invaluable wife of Bateman (before the switch) and as usual she nails the part. The problem is for every moment she’s required to flip the script with a tender uplifting scene about family and love, it’s doubled by jokes involving her having explosive diarrhea or being included in extremely perverted dialogue.
The same goes for Olivia Wilde as a secretary who works for Bateman who starts taking a liking to him in Reynolds body. Wilde is a talented actress who exudes sexual appeal so her appearance here is understanding in order to seduce Reynolds as an eligible bachelor. Her character likes baseball, tattoos, and drinking as a way to seem like the perfect catch, but she’s subjected to nudity (which is CGI enhanced by the way) that demeans her of any true quality traits.
This is the way The Change-Up operates throughout, always resorting to shock and awe instead of relying on the comedic chops of its actors. Reynolds and Bateman have fun with the act of switching bodies the best they can but repeatedly get overshadowed by gross out gags that really push the boundaries of absurdity.
The biggest issue with The Change-Up is that it tries so hard at being raunchy it forgets to be funny. The occasional laugh is fine, but if it’s one or two chuckles and fifteen shrieks of disgust then it doesn’t balance out properly. Body-switch movies work like a charm – that’s why they are so popular. However, in the case of The Change-Up, the approach was wrong to begin with.
Restricted comedies often prove to be the best at combining offensive behavior with laugh out loud moments to achieve a poignant finish that somehow pays off. Overdoing it to the point of exhaustion can diminish even the most skilled actors trying to rise above the filth they are saying. Apparently it’s too much to ask for when it comes to having an overall summer full of great comedies as there always has to be one rotten apple among the bunch. It’s just a shame that it was the last one.
The Change-Up is a comedy that can't find it's proper place in the demographic of anyone by freakishly pushing the boundaries of taste.