Movie Review: The Change-Up

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Body swapping movies are not exactly the most original, but Hollywood has come back with yet another film based on doing just that. This time, Universal Pictures’ latest comedy “The Change-Up,” starring Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds, attempts to provide the R-rated version of this familiar plot but falls a little flat in the execution.

Dave Lockwood (Bateman) is a hard-working lawyer and father of three, who is best friends with Mitch Planko (Reynolds), a responsibility-shirking man-child. The duo go out for drinks one night, say the magic words that need to be said in this kind of movie, and wake up the next morning in each others’ bodies. This, predictably, causes a slew of problems as Dave and Mitch attempt to switch back and get used to each others’ lives.

Most of these problems are the reason “The Change-Up” is rated R. The film was written by “The Hangover” writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who provide the characters with some very adult situations, most of them involving nudity. Mitch and Dave also throw profanities around like good cheer on Christmas day, and there are a few instances of marijuana smoking. But when looking at the big picture, these characteristics alone are not what make the movie undesirable– it’s that none of these elements provide many laughs. The scenes are cliché and one-dimensional, reminding audiences of a Judd Apatow comedy.

However, there are a few moments the movie shines. Similar to others of its kind such as “Freaky Friday,” the ending is touching and heartfelt. The chemistry between Bateman and Reynolds is strong, and supporting characters Jamie Lockwood (Leslie Mann) and Sabrina McArdle (Olivia Wilde), who play Dave’s husband and his coworker, respectively, provide some depth in the plot.

The movie is not a chore to get through. In fact, it is entertaining and funny at times. The problem is that the body-swapping idea has been done so many times before, audiences can foresee many of the plot twists. This eliminates all the element of surprise and instead survives solely on the comedy of situational irony, which is why movie-goers can potentially find the film frustrating and empty of a compelling storyline.

“The Change-Up” is perfect for those who enjoy movies with simple plots that provide an easy-going movie-watching experience. Those searching for more sophisticated and intellectual films should look elsewhere.

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