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The Change-Up (2011) [a more positive second opinion]

November 24, 2011

MY CALL:  This movie is loaded with slapstick hilarity and still brings some “real” content.  Lots of laughs and some touching moments make this one is a winner in my book.  For sheer, often vulgar and sophomoric, entertainment value I give this an “A”.  IF YOU LIKE THIS, WATCH:  For the slapstick side I’d go with Buying the Cow if you’re in your 30’s-40’s, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell if you’re in your 20’s-30’s, and Van Wilder if you’re in your teens-20’s.  It’s like the same writers teamed up for all of these movies leading up to the The Change-Up—but wrote I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell after they were all going through a woman-hating phase.  For the more uplifting experience, try The Family Man, The Switch, The Wedding Crashers, and The Hangover.  FYI:  Mark reviewed this for one of his Bad Movie Tuesday reviews.  I disagree with calling this a “bad movie” unless you consider the movies mentioned above to also be bad.

After some empty-envy commentary about what a great life the other has is exchanged, two friends take a leak in a public fountain and say at the same time “I wish I had your life”—jinx.  The next morning they wake up having switched bodies.  What ensues is a hilarious combination of outlandish quotables and awkward situations.

As Mitch, Ryan Reynolds wastes no time before cluster-bombing common decency with locker room, frat house rhetoric.  Mitch is the kind of guy who has something to offend everyone.  His charming insights on women, work and father-son relationships inform us that this is on par with Ryan’s earlier work in Buying the Cow and Van Wilder.  As Dave, Jason Bateman plays his polar-opposite best bud since high school who has drifted considerably since getting married and having three kids.  If ever they had similar personalities you’d never know it as he is repulsed by the things Ryan says to his wife and small children.  I’d love to throw some quotes at you, but NONE of them are appropriate for general, family-filterless readership.

This movie was a lot of fun, but I have one serious negative criticism.  After the two characters switch bodies, they say all the things we expect them to say and it’s meant to be ironic that it’s being spoken from the other character, right?  But the actors, as much as I love both of them, failed to mimic each others’ speech patterns and tone.  In Face/Off, after the switch Nic Cage didn’t just say the things we expected from John Travolta’s character.  He said them such that they “sounded” like they came from Travolta—but with a different his own voice.  Bateman and Reynolds really just read the lines as if they were the same characters forced into awkward situations.  Reynolds has a very distinctive, funny, pause-rich speech pattern, and he uses it both before and after the switch.  Bateman, likewise, never adopts it after the switch.  Despite this shortcoming, my enjoyment of the movie was not reduced at all.

The writers managed to deliver some sincere moments interspersed among the garrison of sex jokes and colorfully metaphored profanity.  I’ll be quoting this movie for a while.  I adored the scenes where they “train” each other how to be a responsible adult-parent-employee-husband and a less-lame, exciting, dating single man.  Reynolds has a great montage.  Leslie Mann and Olivia Wilde both added to my thorough enjoyment of this movie.
Olivia Wilde, need I say more?

Although the ending was a bit forced, it didn’t take up too much time.  I enjoyed this movie a LOT.

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