The charm, versatility and charisma of Jason Bateman and the camera-ready good looks of Ryan Reynolds should add up to more than a piece of crummy, amateurish junk called The Change-Up. But what else can a discerning filmgoer (I naively presume, perhaps foolishly, there are a few of those left) count on from bogus director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) and sub-mental screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (The Hangover)? Expect an overwhelming surfeit of incompetence and filth.
In this one-joke frat house masturbatory fantasy about two guys who exchange bodies for no reason except to keep a DOA movie going for almost two hours, even the title makes no sense. There is no such thing as a “change-up.” I could understand “change-over” or “trade-off,” but the invasion of one person’s persona into another person’s frame is not a “change-up.” Never mind. Nothing else jells in this farrago of idiocy, either. Mr. Bateman is Dave, a battered but responsible lawyer, husband and father of three, including a pair of twins, who hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in months. Mr. Reynolds, his best friend since the third grade, is Mitch, a pot-smoking, womanizing, free-spirited bachelor-model-actor (a nice 21st century way of saying “irresponsible, unemployed jerk”). He is a symbol of a former life Dave would like to re-live. Dave hasn’t had time to have sex with his own wife, while Mitch says things to trashy women like “I’d like to strap you to my face and say the alphabet.” One night, after a ball game and a few joints, they pee in a fountain and wish they could trade places. Miraculously, they wake up the next morning in each other’s bodies. Now it is gentle, responsible family man Dave who is talking like a drunken Marine and hangover king Mitch who is forced to attend law firm briefings and burp babies, covered with vomit and diapers filled with what looks like chocolate pudding but isn’t.
The conceit is they look like themselves but talk and act like each other. Dave arrives on a movie set looking like Mitch but to his conservative, button-down horror, it turns out to be a porno film with another man’s finger up his orifices. When the kinky Mitch’s sexy new squeeze shows up for wild, uninhibited sex with Dave, who looks like Mitch, she is nude and nine months pregnant. Meanwhile Mitch, in Dave’s body, tries to keep from sleeping with his best friend’s wife Jamie, played by Leslie Mann, wife of no-talent Judd Apatow and one of the worst actresses in B-movies. Remember her opposite pardon-the-expression Adam Sandler in the abominable Funny People? I couldn’t understand a word she said in that fiasco, and she hasn’t learned a thing since. She sounds like she’s got a mouth full of cotton swabs, stuffed in sideways.
The Change-Up drags on endlessly, held together with scatology, flatulence and masturbation. Everybody gets a chance on the toilet, with all the noise and disgust that graphic bathroom scenes entail. When Mitch tries to teach Dave how to be Mitch by shaving everything off below his Speedo line, and Dave feeds Mitch’s ego with more penis-envy jokes than a bunch of sailors in a locker room, the contrivances pile up like a tower of dominoes. Here is a minor idea with minimal possibilities for mistaken identity routines, plummeting into mind-numbing confusion. Sooner than you can search the second hand on your watch to see how much more of this you can take, you forget if you are watching Dave in Mitch’s body, or vice versa. It’s worth a chuckle or two to see Mr. Bateman get a chance to be crazy and gregarious, but when will somebody give him a role with some stature? In this sorry waste of time, his energy gets all mixed up with Mr. Reynolds’ pecs and who cares? I finally threw in the towel when Dave, in the body of Mitch, and Sabrina, the sexy law intern in Dave’s office (played by Flavor of the Month Olivia Wilde), who thinks she’s on a date with Mitch, both get their genitals tattooed.
Running time 112 minutes
Written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Directed by David Dobkin
Starring Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann