Rated: R Reviewed by: Jim Release date: August 5, 2011 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.
Here is the "wild-card" comedy of the summer featuring Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman exchanging personalities and more as their characters get more than bargained when finding relief at a fountain.
Outrageous and vulgar with plenty of nudity and profanity with simply gross situations, The Change-Up is more inconsistent and archaic than a smutty joyride.
As directed by David Dobkin (The Wedding Crashers) and written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (The Hangover), an act between recently reunited childhood friends - Mitch (Reynolds of The Green Lantern) and Dave (Bateman of Horrible Bosses) results in both "becoming" the other the next morning after a night of alcohol. Sounds familiar, doesn't it.
Now, Dave is able to embrace Mitch's hedonistic lifestyle while getting a little shock in the "lorn" industry. Vice versa, Mitch does his irresponsibly unsympathetic bit as the committed, more stressed Dave with wife Jamie (Leslie Mann) and three children (two infants) and a respected attorney at a firm with sexy assistant Sabrina (Olivia Wilde of Cowboys & Aliens).
This hard "R" with a definite sentimental streak seems to realize the awkwardness of a persisting gleeful ribald nature. Thus, what can shock into "laugh out loud" moments is pretty much by-the-numbers with Mitch and Dave having to check in a lot as they work on damage the other's life. Like the handling of Dave's wife and kids and potential merger at the film and Mitch's coveted boy-toy in the expectant Tatiana (Mircea Monroe).
It seems that Dobkin and his editors put a lot of effort (whittling it down a bit and changing some jokes) into getting as much out of the body-swapping, there's hardly the magic of more wholesome fare like a Freaky Friday.
Reynolds does better with his lines (almost approximating the fast verbal output of Vince Vaughn in one scene) and draws more empathy when being Dave. In playing each other, Bateman's Mitch often can't be more effective than the cheapness of the gags. Part of the problem might be how the story and the sense of humor aren't as seamless as the filmmakers make them out to be. Especially as both characters realize what they've taken for granted in their own lives when portraying what was initially invited and idealized.
For the desired demographic the adventures of Mitch and Dave will be a crudely concocted riot, but less magical for those turned off by the incessant stream of the misogynistic and scatological as the understated switch isn't especially easy to establish or resolve. Mann and Wilde aren't really valued as actors here (after some Thai food or being ogled) like their male counterparts. Alan Arkin can't elevate himself above the material with some of his usual irascible schtick as Mitch's estranged soon-to-wed-again dad.
It must be said that however content and successful The Change-Up is in how its humorous intentions unfold, this is hardly the whambam ridiculous fun of "The Wedding Crashers" even if Bateman and Reynolds appeared to be a viably comedic fit. In a story where a merger, a tribute and an anniversary party play out, this choppy raunchy comedy has no trouble losing its sense of timing.