Friday, 16 September 2011

Review: The Change-Up

Rating: 15
Duration: 112 mins

Another comedy rears its head in the post-summer months that has seen the genre squeezed dry with the likes of Horrible Bosses, The InbetweenersBridesmaids and the soon to be released, Crazy Stupid Love; are we in need of anymore? It would appear so, as Jason 'I'm everywhere at the moment' Bateman stars alongside Ryan 'I've had a quiet summer' Reynolds in this Freaky Friday-style mind switch movie.

The premise of The Change-Up will feel familiar because it's been done a dozen times before. As good as some may have been -such as the Tom Hanks starring, BIG - the notion of two people swapping minds/brains/bodies is naturally far-fetched and here David Dobkin's (Wedding Crashers) effort is no exception. Undeniably, the biggest qualm to get your head around is this premise and whether you chose to contextualise it within the grand scheme of fantasy-comedy, the film can't escape from being plain daft. If you can overlook this, then you will be satisfied with a film that serves its purpose.

Best friends Mitch (Reynolds) and Dave (Bateman), have very contrasting lives; Mitch is a single, free-living, metro-sexual ladies man, whereas Dave spends his life working a high powered job, supporting wife, Jaime (Leslie Mann), and looking after their kids. The pair utter the inaugural words 'I wish I had your life' whilst urinating in a public fountain one drunken night and wake up the following morning - you've guessed it - in each other's bodies. The complication arises when they return to the fountain to discover it has been moved and therefore spend the movie tracking it down. Whatever unbelievable swap that has occurred is beyond the point; the real test is whether they can do a convincing job of playing one another's character.

The laughs comes thick and fast, ranging from toilet humour to slap stick as it succeeds in entertaining and, low-and-behold, actually being funny. From early on we are set up with the decline of Dave and Jaime's marriage, Mitch's insatiable desire for the ladies as well as the deteriorating relationship with his father played by Alan Arkin. It's a given that these factors will inevitably play a part further down the line, as does the romantic complication with Dave's colleague, Sabrina (Olivia Wilde). 

Bateman and Reynolds do their best to portray the other and end up feeling like impersonations at times, whereas during others you cannot tell; it's very hard to distinguish a separation between both personalities. However, looking at it from purely a comedy perspective, it safely delivers plenty of laughs along the way, albeit in a crass way.

What it tries to do is delve beyond a juvenile exterior with some exploration of relationships, friendship and life, but never manages to do so convincingly. Instead it reverts to reliable humour of the toilet variety (quite literally in some instances). It does score points for at least attempting something with a little more substance, yet does so heavy handedly. 

The Change-Up is a crude, yet amusing comedy crammed with facetiousness and typical set-ups for the purpose of making audiences giggle (sometimes in disgust). Throughout, it remains entertaining even though the catalyst for the film is a thin, worn idea, it only dragging occasionally. Bateman and Reynolds do a fine job as a duo but ultimately it's nothing we haven't seen before. A typical 'popcorn movie' that displays some heart but it, along with a majority of its genre siblings, is far too forgettable.