The Change Up
Director: David Dobkin
Release Date: 5 August 2011
Ryan Reynolds … Mitch Planko
Jason Bateman … Dave Lockwood
Leslie Mann … Jamie Lockwood
Olivia Wilde … Sabrina McArdle
Alan Arkin … Mitch’s Dad
Mircea Monroe … Tatiana
Body-swapping comedies are so 80s. But with The Change-Up, David Dobkin, director of the bloke hit The Wedding Crashers, puts a ribald spin to the genre. Those who can’t stand scatological jokes and profanity ought to steer clear. Unless you’re a Judd Apatow fan. Although in this movie, you should expect much less emotional poignancy.
It is refreshing to see Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds take on atypical roles. As the overachieving lawyer Dave with a stiff upper lip, Bateman steps into those loafers comfortably. Often type-casted as the jokester, he is now the model family man who works so hard till his wife, Jamie, feels neglected. On the other hand, Reynolds who mostly comes across as serious or amiable, gets to be the mildly offensive, profanity-spewing lothario, Mitch.
Dave and Mitch have diametrically-opposed characters and they play off each other very well. A hilarious encounter with a Roman statue by a fountain in the park, while they take a leak, allows them to magically swap bodies. Seeing them switch bodies to play opposite personalities and scramble (amusingly) to adapt to their new lives is central to the enjoyment of the movie. And through living each others lives, they learn to improve themselves.
Dave enjoys independence and freedom from his stifling marriage, while in Mitch’s body. At same time, getting jolted and turned off by Mitch’s odd sexual partner, lewd profession and bizarre bed hopping antics. Meanwhile, Mitch gets to clean up his bawdiness and straighten up his waywardness while taking on the responsibilities of married life’s daily grind, which includes changing the soiled diapers of two impish toddlers.
While the movie adopts the predictable narrative of flawed characters being transformed for the better, the journey is fun and occasionally goes ape. So check your brains at the cinema door and just go with the absurd-ism.