THE CHANGE-UP Review - Buffoonish Body Swap Comedy

Throwing a little fantasy into the rom-com mix with another stab at the moribund body-swap routine with likeable actors Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds, at face value the ingredients for a fun time seemed to be in place.... sadly that's not the case.

The Change-Up

rating: 2

It used to be easy to tell what kind of comedy experience you were heading into; juvenile, stoner, indie, you get the picture. But the bromance movie has turned this a little on its head, marrying Adam Sandler stupidity, adult humour, genuine performances and some sardonic, sarcastic smarts. The two Hangover movies are probably now the daddies of the genre, but just look at Seth Rogen€™s cinema back catalogue and you€™ll get a pretty rounded picture of where things have evolved (or dis-assembled depending on your point of view). It was back in 2005 however that a movie came along that probably laid the foundations €“ David Dobkin€™s €˜Wedding Crashers€™. A $200 million box office behemoth, it was a raucous, heartfelt paean to best friends, bust-ups, and the women who confuse all that important drinking and having a good time, time. It was also a blueprint for how to put a cast together with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan a perfect pairing of sweet optimism and caustic, motor-mouthed joy, the magnetic Rachel McAdams, and a pre-leading man Bradley Cooper. So, a few years on, how hard could it be to get lightning to strike twice? Well, based on Dobkin€™s latest effort, The Change-Up, it seems to be pretty damn hard. Throwing a little fantasy into the mix with another stab at the moribund body-swap comedy, at face value the ingredients seem to be in place. Same director, some seemingly good casting in Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, a vein of grown-up laughs, and the writers behind the aforementioned Hangovers (Jon Lucas and Scott Moore), but somehow the whole just doesn€™t quite gel. The Change-Up Mitch (Reynolds) and Dave (Bateman) are best friends, who in the usual ways of the world, find themselves on divergent tracks through life. Dave is the family man married to Jamie (the startlingly pneumatic Leslie Mann), and a hot-shot lawyer on the cusp of promotional nirvana, while Mitch is the itinerant boy/man and somewhat actor, living up the single life in a blueprint bachelor pad. After a night€™s drinking and beer-sodden soul searching each finds the other€™s existence more attractive than their own, and so taking a break to take a leak in a park fountain the fates, or in this case a mischievous statue, conspire to make them live in each other€™s skin. Where, naturally enough, things aren€™t as rosy as they thought. Straitjacketed into domesticity and the actuality of corporate law, not to mention the witchily sexy and cat-eyed allure of legal assistant Sabrina (Olivia Wilde), Mitch/Bateman is the literal bull in a china shop as he attempts to keep Dave€™s carefully planned out life on an even keel. Meanwhile, poor, old Dave/Reynolds is thrown head, and other body parts, first into Mitch€™s unhinged existence of picking up dates at women€™s support meetings and landing his big break in a Lorno (that€™s soft-porn for the uninitiated). Single irresponsibility sure isn€™t what€™s cracked up to be. The Change-Up Of course Mitch and Dave aren€™t playing in different playgrounds for the fun of it as there are life lessons to be learned here as they also try and track down the now municipally missing statue, but there are laughs to be had all the same. Reynolds€™ well practised persona, pretty much allows him to be amusingly charming and obnoxious at the same time, whilst Bateman patently revels in throwing away the tie, and playing rodeo with an office chair and multi-million dollar legal negotiations. The problem is that once those laughs are out of the way Bateman is patently not Reynolds and the inherent nice-ness that€™s required to balance out the crassness disappears, leaving Bateman€™s Mitch less a humorous fuck-up, than a basic annoying jerk. Reynolds is pretty much Reynolds. The man€™s turning into Cary Grant. There are attempts to lend some pathos to the friend€™s travails with Mann€™s struggle to marry the reality of Dave€™s career driven life with her desire to bring him back into the family fold, and Mitch€™s estranged relationship with his father (Alan Arkin), and his father€™s impending marriage. But these added layers, mixed with the buffoonish and the scatological, simply serve to highlight the Change-Up as an exercise in clumsy tonal shifts and execution. Perhaps Dobkin should have tried to shanghai his old Wedding Crashers co-stars into the mix instead; at least we would have gotten some nice height jokes. The Change-Up poster The Change-Up opens Friday, 16 September.

Film writer, drinker of Guinness. Part-time astronaut. Man who thinks there are only two real Indiana Jones movies, writing loglines should be an Olympic event, and that science fiction, comic book movies, 007, and Hal Hartley's Simple Men are the cures for most evils. Currently scripting.