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Body-swap Comedy The Change-Up Disappoints, Even Revolts

Posted on the 13 September 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

Body-swap comedy The Change-Up disappoints, even revolts

Actor Ryan Reynolds. Photo credit: CMJCool

Assume for a moment your best buddy’s a layabout actor (Ryan Reynolds) with a much-scratched itch for sex and partying; you, on the other hand, (Jason Bateman) are stuck at home with a wife and two kids. What to bleeding do? Director David Dobkin’s body-swap comedy The Change-Up has the answer; get drunk, discover that your partying compadre secretly hankers after your own knuckled-down lifestyle, urinate in a magic fountain together, and wake-up – transmogrified by a quick rub on Hollywood’s favourite chestnut – living in his skin. And with his penis hanging between your legs! Yes, it’s Freaky Friday with dick gags. Why, asked many critics, can’t the switcheroo plot-device be brilliantly swapped with actual original scriptwriting?

Conceived of by the duo behind The Hangover and directed by The Wedding Crashers director Dobkin, The Change-Up comes from comedy pedigree. The critics felt the fusing of Judd Apatow-esque frat-boy humour with more innocent japes of films like Big was mildly original and entertaining. Almost all critics gagged at the early scene that sees Bateman’s baby-son projectile pooing into his father’s mouth. From then on, opinions ranged from mildly diverted to seriously offended.

  • Where’s the invention? Mary Pols wasn’t sweating too much over the details of the plot in Time, and found some it funny: “It’s the reactions that matter, like Mitch/Dave’s disgust when he wakes up to the sight of Jamie [Leslie Mann] breastfeeding in bed.” However, she yawned at the inevitable affirmation of dutiful family values. More and nastier things should be made out of the swap. As it is, all we get, both conceptually and literally, is titillation: plenty of tits but god forbid the sight of a swinging dick. “If a filmmaker really wanted to radicalize the body-swap movie, one swapper would end up in a mental ward while the other spent all his money and slept with his wife.” Hoo-rah.
  • Obscene, foulmouthed, scatological, creepy and perverted stuff.It can only be speculated how Roger Ebert managed to review the film while so vigorously shaking his head in The Chicago Sun-Times. He spluttered: “It has a low opinion of men, a lower opinion of women, and the lowest opinion of the intelligence of its audience. It is obscene, foulmouthed, scatological, creepy and perverted.” Out of all the depraved set-pieces on show, it is the “public pissing” that draws his especial condemnation. One also has to spend plenty of the movie “reminding ourselves which of these two pleasant thirty-somethings is which.”
  • Livewire stars. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone admired the pair of “livewires” the film has as its leads. After the switch, close encounters of the kinky kind and wardrobe makeovers are a chance for Bateman and Reynolds to “break out of their respective boxes.” Reynolds doesn’t quite make a convincing slob (an older Seth Rogen or younger Bill Murray would have been better cast) but nevertheless “the movie would be literally nothing” without its stars.

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