Rating: 0 stars out of 5
When a movie starts with an opening scene of a baby literally taking a crap in a man’s mouth, you know there’s nowhere else to go but down.
Writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (The Hangover, Four Christmases), alongside director David Dobkin (The Wedding Crashers, Fred Claus) has managed to create a film that reeks of idiocy, laziness and total disrespect for viewing audiences everywhere.
Chock full of infantile humour, tasteless bathroom jokes and insanely unlikable characters, The Change-Up is train-wreck theatre, only that the promise of derailment and carnage never come to fruition – you chug agonizingly along the tracks expecting to fall off a cliff, but the drop never happens. It’s also an unrelentingly stupid movie with a clumsy screenplay and flat, humourless punch lines. In short, the film is just plain unfunny, which is practically a death sentence for a “comedy”.
Offensive situations, liberal use of expletives, homophobic taunts - you can generally get away with anything as long as you’re smart enough to be amusing and somewhat witty. The Change-Up, however, is clogged with half-baked plots, brainless scenarios and inane dialogue that regularly mistakes yelling for acting and passion.
The film is one of the many derivatives of the body-swap genre (think Freaky Friday, Big, Like Father Like Son), which was done to death in the 80s and for reasons unknown seems to be enjoying a comeback in recent years. Yet with a decent storyline, it's easy to stand out from a crowd of well-beaten concepts. Sadly, The Change-Upis nothing more than pure cinematic torture.
Harried lawyer Dave (Jason Bateman in his most embarrassing role to date) is a married father of two infants who's emotionally drained, financially stable and has lusty thoughts about the hot new associate at his firm, Sabrina (Olivia Wilde). His childhood best mate, Mitch (Ryan Reynolds who hasn't learnt his lesson since The Green Lantern) on the other hand, is a mentally and socially handicapped imbecile who spends his days smoking pot, bedding a gaggle of women and accepting the odd acting gig. Naturally, they want each others' lives, and without so much as a token of magical import – no wishing dust or bewitched fortune cookie - the boys take a piss in a park fountain and wake up the next the morning to find that their minds have changed bodies.
The script writers didn't even bother to inject the barest smidgen of creativity or adventure; the guys simply swap physical entities so they can screw each other's lives and serve as vapid vessels for whatever juvenile nonsense they've been written into. So basically, Mitch (in Dave's body) manages to almost single-handedly ruin his law career, and Dave (in Mitch's body) is essentially tasked with simulating sex with an older woman on a porn film set – an unnecessarily low-brow, awkward scene that feels forced and put there to amp up the raunchy elements of the movie.
Bateman routinely appears in terrible films and he always plays the same neurotic, slightly loser-ly type, but is somehow capable of making us sympathize and often fall a little bit in love with him. Unfortunately, Dave is so poorly characterized that we really don't care what happens. Reynolds fares even worse (if that's at all possible); Mitch is cruel, callous and a totally off-putting douche.
The filmmakers evidently thought that a boyishly handsome enough actor might make people forget how awful his character actually is, although even Reynold's charm and chiselled abs are insufficient to distract from the fact that Mitch is a complete psycho. It certainly worked for Bradley Cooper in The Hangover, and that's only because of a sharply executed script and well-heeled plot, both of which are non-existent in The Change-Up.
The women fail to do any better; Leslie Mann has seen brighter days in Funny People and Knocked Up, and Wilde, despite not being much of an actress, doesn't deserve to be humiliated as the object of Mitch's (Dave's?) hypersexual desires.
Tediously obnoxious and frightfully predictable, The Change-Uprepresents movie making at its lowest. And over the course of a hundred and twelve excruciatingly dull minutes, in which we try to express our disgust, concern or confusion, we're offered nothing but more crap for our trouble.