The Change up fails to impress
LIFE swop comedies have become a staple novelty in the genre of comedy films and are even a valid sub-genre in their own right. The formula never gets old and the plot is always hilarious. Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds) and Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman) are best friends who live extremely different lives. Mitch is a happy-go-lucky stoner who lacks direction in life while Dave is a frustrated family man longing for his younger years.
The pair finds themselves taking a leak at a mysterious fountain and while debating who has the better life they both declare that each one wishes he had the other’s life. And sure enough, Dave wakes up in Mitch’s body the next morning while Mitch lives in Dave’s. Funny scenarios play out very naturally as the two men struggle with adapting to each others lives and responsibilities.
Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman tag team reasonably well in this comedy, which is quite a surprise, seeing as Reynolds had a poor showing in the horrible Green Lantern earlier this year. The film however misses out on many opportunities for good laughs as the supporting cast is underused. The Change Up sees him going to an immature level of humour and wit as he played both the roles of Mitch and Dave exceptionally. Bateman gives the hoots as well, but not to the level of the recent comedy hit Horrible Bosses.
The film does however straddle the line of what is acceptable morally from this type of movie. It starts out with the kind of crude humour that would rival a Hangover film. As the film starts off that way, a lot of the gags are owed to the gross and obscene physicality of scenarios the men find themselves in. Jon Lucas and Scott Moore had to have been hoping to draw a stoner-cum-college crowd with The Change Up. Whether it would appeal to such a crowd remains to be seen. A lot of crude humour does the rounds, seemingly hoping to pass as innovation in the life switch genre. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to see that there are no wheels being re-invented here.
The Change Up seems to lack a great deal of what can be found in a life switch classic like Freaky Friday (the 1995 original version of the film of course). This is quite concerning, given the talents of Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds and the beauty of Olivia Wilde were available to make this film great. Somehow, where Horrible Bosses got away with misogyny, race jokes and bordering homophobia, The Change Up seems bound to get panned as tasteless and crass. Morals and lessons within the film seem plugged in and insincere, when they could’ve been done away with altogether without sacrificing the plot itself. The film stands as a testimony that being political incorrect just might not be funny anymore. Witty and sharp humour at its best won’t be found on The Change Up in this lifetime. Or the next.