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At Home: The Change-Up

Posted on the 08 March 2012 by Desertofreel @Kob_Monney

Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds in The Change-Up

Is it weird I miss your penis?

Comedies are a difficult thing to execute. Not only do they have to be funny on the first watch but they have to hold up on repeat viewings otherwise they’ll have a half-life of a couple of months. The Change-Up is a film that I found to be hilarious on first watch but is less so a second time.

The premise is, initially, bare-bones. Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman) is a married man with two kids and a stressful, all encompassing job (lawyer). Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds) is his best friend from school; a slovenly, lazy man-child who screws anything that isn’t tied down and has a father (Alan Arkin) who looks down on him. One night, after a round of drinks, they drunkenly piss into a fountain wishing they had each other’s lives and ‘Hey Presto!’ that wish is granted the next morning when they switch bodies.

It’s not the most original concept but The Change-Up does take it in a different direction from you twee Disney body-switch films. It’s filthy, raucous and depraved, stretching the low-brow humour of the Bridesmaids toilet scene to a whole film. The Change-Up loves its filth, taking any opportunity to (literally) shit in someone’s mouth. Reynolds plays Mitch as a confident, insensitive man who lacks self-awareness. Bateman’s Dave puts more effort into his work than he does his family. When they switch it causes them to reassess their priorities with both of them realising their rather selfish ways.

If that sounds lofty for a film in which one of the characters sticks a finger up a woman’s ass or Bateman’s screen wife Leslie Mann takes an excruciatingly noisy trip to the toilet then yes, The Change-Up’s sense of humour doesn’t sit too well with its more maudlin moments. It’s a little too syrupy and hackneyed but it is fun if you share its depraved point of view. A second and third watch is where the (gross) charm of the film may wear off completely, if you weren’t already affronted by a baby projectile shitting into Bateman’s mouth.

It’s no surprise to see that this film is from the scribes of The Hangover Part II, the debauched sequel that mined Bangkok for every lazy joke it could. Unlike that sequel this film doesn’t turn its characters into irritating idiots but it does share its affinity for nudity, broad cultural jokes (some funny, some not) and a redemptive storyline that you could see coming from years away, let alone a few miles. If you like depraved antics, then The Change-Up is definitely your kind of comedy. If you want something a little smarter, then head in any other direction.


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