Film Review – The Change Up

The Change Up (MA)

Directed by: David Dobkin

Starring: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde

Three and a half stars

Review by: Julian Wright


You know the story it has been done to death; two people un-happy with their lives wish they could switch places with each other and, hey presto, it happens. Heck, we have all done the same thing. When the going gets tough, we wish we were someone else, someone who we think has it easy.

It is fun cinematic fluff, to watch the two people whose wish comes true only for the both of them to realise just how hard it can be being the other. One of the hurdles with these high concept comedies is how the characters switch. It is actually impossible to do, so how do the writers get around it?

The original Freaky Friday (1976) was simply a wish mysteriously granted, its 2003 remake employed fortune cookie mysticism. A skull does the trick for father and son in Vice Versa (1988). The Change Up uses peeing in a fountain. Not exactly high brow stuff, folks, but this sets the gross out tone of this instalment in the life swapping sub-genre.

Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman) is the responsible type. He settled down, married the beautiful Jamie (Leslie Mann) and had a bunch of cute kids. His best mate Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) revels in the bachelor, job-free life of booze and a revolving door of hot chicks. They both think the other has it all.

Dave wants to experience the care-free bachelor lifestyle just one more time. A life without a nagging wife, whiney kids and the pressures of working in a law firm. Mitch, on the other hand, craves the love and affection of a gorgeous wife and the stability of a secure job.

The two buddies head out for a night of drinking at a local bar to catch up, drunkenly pee into a park fountain and make their wish. Thunder suddenly claps, lightning flashes and the guys wake up the next day in each others house and with each others life. But low and behold, the timing is all wrong because Dave is on the verge of a big important company meeting and Mitch is about to film a role in an adult film with a very kinky, older cast mate.

Now Dave must masquerade as Mitch fending off sexy women to stay faithful to his wife and Mitch must struggle through lawyer jargon and endure dirty nappies as Dave. No points for guessing these two learn a valuable lesson. Clearly Hollywood isn’t in the movie making business to gain points for originality. But your enjoyment of this film depends on how funny you find the borderline offensive gags.

The Change Up is rude, crude, vulgar and vile and, Lord help me, I laughed like a lunatic. There is poop shooting into a character’s mouth, an old porn star that enjoys a lot of thumb action and a baby that smashes its head into its crib railing. And none of it failed to make me laugh. Granted, the gross out humour is a thin veil to hide the tired old plot and exercise in life lessons, but darn it, director David Dobkin has handled it like a pro. Going into this film I was wishing I someone else, someone about to watch some quality film making. But by the end I had learned my lesson.


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