johnlink ranks THE CHANGE-UP (2011)

I’m on quite the run of comedies; a somewhat unusual happening on this blog. Maybe it is that time of year, maybe it is coincidence, maybe it is Jason Bateman. Whatever the reason, here’s another entry into the switching-bodies genre, THE CHANGE-UP.

I watched THE CHANGE-UP (2011) on 9.11.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

Critics really hated this movie, and there are myriad reasons for it. The magical swap of bodies is a tired genre, and it rarely has much new to say. The film is raunchy, sometimes unnecessarily so. The nudity is computer generated, which seems unimportant except for the fact that the nudity in the film is gratuitous in the first place, so the idea of computer generated nudity feels particularly seedy. The male characters are chauvinistic and the female characters (at least all characters not played by Leslie Mann) are objects of male fantasy. There is plenty to harp on.

And while all of these factors dulled the impact for me, as a means of defense I can revert to the fact that THE CHANGE-UP is more funny than unfunny. Additionally, Jason Bateman (Dave) and Ryan Reynolds (Mitch) work well together.

This isn’t to say they give particularly powerful performances. The plot here is generic: Two guys yearn for each others’ lives. One is married and successful, the other is a playboy without responsibility. They piss in a fountain and switch bodies. Bateman and Reynolds aren’t really interested in nailing each others’ nuances or channeling their energy. Bateman has his good-boy shtick and his bad-boy shtick. Reynolds has his. They don’t resemble each other, or particularly act like each other. Heck, I’m not even sure that what the characters do or say post-switch is consistent with what is established pre-switch.

THE CHANGE-UP is an entertaining film with little meat for the first half of the story. In the second half, its viewpoint on the challenges of marriage can be solid, if a trifle over-exaggerated. But any sort of moralistic or thematic credit given to this movie has to be attributed to a really heartfelt performance by Leslie Mann. As Dave’s wife Jamie, she is easily the most sympathetic character in the film, and really the only consistently likable person to be found.

That she, Bateman, and Reynolds (and,  to a lesser extent, Olivia Wilde as another love interest) keep this from becoming horrendous is a minor miracle. But while they have managed to give us a funny couple of hours, there isn’t much of a soul here. Or, at least, not one you’d want to have over for dinner.





~ by johnlink00 on September 13, 2012.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: