The Change-Up (2011)

(On-demand, September 2012) Body-switching is a surprisingly common trope in live-action films, up to a point where when it’s used in The Change-Up, the focus is less on the fantastical nature of the switch than in the comic potential of the premise.  Here, a perennial bachelor (played by Ryan Reynolds) switches bodies with a career-driven family man (played by Jason Bateman).  It goes without saying that the film’s biggest pleasure is in seeing Bateman and Reynolds play with their on-screen personas, Bateman undermining his wholesome image while Reynolds reverts to his old Van Wilder days.  From the first few minutes, we know that the film will be burdened with scatological references, phallic humor and pervasive bad language.  We also know that it’s in the nature of such films to end in a way that reinforces everyone’s social expectations.  In other words; don’t expect anything subversive… in fact, brace yourself for mid-thirties juvenility.  If you’re in the right mood (amused, forgiving, certainly immature), it works relatively well: there are enough funny gags in-between the formulaic plot scaffolding and the mandatory sentimental moments to make it seem worthwhile.  The Change-Up was critically savaged upon release and it’s not hard to see why, but the result is still a slickly-made, occasionally hilarious comedy with two of the most capable comic actors in the business: once you get past the crudity factor, it’s not too bad.  It may even have something to say about the nature of one’s place in the world and the happiness we can make for ourselves… in between the constant swearwords and the graceless nudity, of course. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *