While peeing into a magical wishing fountain, Dave and Mitch wish that they had one another’s lives. The next day they find out that wishes do come true.
The body switch comedy has been around for a long time – 17 Again, Freaky Friday and to an extent, Big have all used the idea of wishing to be someone else. The formula has been tried and tested, and for the most part, it works pretty well. Then we have The Change Up. The idea is a fine one, but the problem is that the film relies too heavily on toilet humour to make the audience laugh. The fact that Jason Bateman gets a mouth full of poop minutes into the film, and the two heroes make their wish by peeing into a fountain should tell you all you need to know. The absolute lack of knowledge that these two men have of their best friend makes for some of the humour, but it quickly slides into dodgy porn scenarios and a wife that has had too much Thai food leaving the bathroom door open. Not pleasant.
Jason Bateman proved to the world with Arrested Development that his style of understated humour is just what the world wants, and then further proved himself with his ‘dramatic’ (a word used loosely) role in Juno. The problem here is that he goes too far into the realm of over the top comedy. Bateman starts the movie as Dave; a workaholic lawyer who dreams of being single again. He switches with Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) so then Bateman gets to play the man-child who wants nothing more than to smoke weed and get laid. This overstated comedy is not something that Bateman is good at; his strength lies in subtlety, and while he is clearly enjoying himself, this is not the type of role that allows Bateman to shine.
Ryan Reynolds starts off as the man-child Mitch, but soon becomes the straight man Dave. He is fine in this role; he has some fun interactions, but at times it feels like he is putting it all on and does not believe a thing that he is doing. Olivia Wilde is woefully underused as the bit of skirt that both men are chasing, and Leslie Mann reprises her role from 17 Again, where she also played the wife of a man who swapped bodies.
The idea and premise of The Change Up is something that worked well on paper, but relies too heavily on poop and sex jokes to get the point across. The pacing is all off and the film spends too much time on the antics of the two main characters then has to gallop to an ending. There are some good moments, but in all; every cast member is wrongly cast or underused, and the really funny moments are too few and far between to carry the film. Not the worst film you will see this year, but one to wait for on DVD.