by Ryan Hill
From the “Freaky Friday” remake to “The Hot Chick,” Hollywood has mined the body-switching plot so many times now that with these movies it’s no longer about the plot, it’s about the execution. And “The Change-Up” has some very spotty execution.
Directed by David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”), written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (“The Hangover”) and starring Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, “The Change-Up,” – on paper at least – has enough talent involved to give this story a great jolt of R-rated comedy. Then again, Dobkin also directed “Fred Claus” and Lucas and Moore also wrote “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” and sadly “The Change-Up” falls somewhere in between those classics and duds.
The film draws not only from “Freaky Friday” but also the Tom Hanks classic “Big.” Only instead of a Zoltar fortune-telling machine, it’s a fountain that’s been moved due to construction. From there, it’s pretty easy to figure out what happens: The main characters are in search of change in their lives, and the uptight workaholic (Bateman) learns to relax and enjoy life while the stoned slacker (Reynolds) learns how to be a responsible adult.
Reynolds and Bateman are enjoyable enough when they’re around each other, but Reynolds especially struggles without Bateman to bounce off of. Olivia Wilde and Leslie Mann play the love interests in the movie and each have some funny moments, but they’ll likely be best remembered in this film for the computer-generated nudity utilized for their characters. How anyone thought that was a good idea is beyond me. It looks weird and it’s just flat out disturbing. Even the poop in the movie looks fake. How does that happen?
There are some fun moments in the film, especially when Bateman, as Reynolds, learns more about his friend’s life and his eclectic taste in women, one of whom is nine months pregnant. Reynolds, as Bateman, has little to do but act like a spoiled teenager the entire film, even when he’s at work and swearing in front of Bateman’s boss as if he was hanging out with his friends in the parking lot after school. Both of these characters are clearly in their mid-thirties, and having someone act so ignorant in a professional environment for the sake of a few laughs is condescending to the audience.
“The Hot Chick” may be one of the worst Rob Schneider movies of all time, making it one of the worst movies of all time, but at least it served as a big-screen debut for Rachel McAdams. All “The Change-Up” does is introduce the world to freaky-looking CGI nudity.
In a season full of great R-rated comedies such as “Bridesmaids” and “Horrible Bosses,” it’s a shame the summer is going to limp to a close with this body-swapping dud that can’t be bothered to be funny outside of some lazy toilet humor.
Grade: 2/4 stars