Movie Review Monday: The Change-Up

Mike Finkelstein woke up one morning in the body of his best friend.  Really confused, and not remembering anything that happened the night before, he decided to go see a movie that seemed to mirror his situation.  He may have not gotten any good advice to fix his issues, but here is his review for “The Change-Up”.

PLOT: Dave (Jason Bateman) and Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) are best friends with very different lives.  Dave is a prestigious lawyer and family man, and Mitch is a womanizer, slacker, and wannabe actor, who has never finished anything in his life.  After drunkenly peeing in a magical fountain (yup, that’s what happens) and wishing for each other’s lives, the two switch bodies, and have to figure out how to survive until they could find their way back.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW: I’m sorry, but THE CHANGE-UP is not a good movie.  Yes, it has Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, two of the funniest comic actors today.  Yes, it has Leslie Mann and Olivia Wilde, two beautiful and funny actresses.  Yes, it has a raunchy R-rating when most studios are trying to turn their R films to PG-13 for a wider audience (Weinstein Company, I’m talking to you).  But all these factors, sadly, do NOT make a good movie.

Two people with completely opposite personalities magically switch bodies, and in the process, learn something about each other and themselves.  We’ve seen it countless times before.  When you have such a familiar plot, you need to have an aspect that makes your film stand out among the rest.  THE CHANGE-UP’s aspect is raunchy humor, but it turns the dial up ad nauseum.

Everywhere you turn, you feel like you’re being slapped in the face with a sex or bathroom joke.  Mitch alone is like a walking Bob Saget DVD.  Every line out of his mouth would get him a restraining order.  He has no clue how to filter himself, and after a while, we wonder how not even Dave, but anybody could stand being around him.  How are they even friends?  This man is not an adult.  This character cannot be real.  He is a caricature of idiocy that doesn’t know how to behave in society.  When you can’t even pretend to treat your best friend’s job or wife right, and just want to “ruin” her, I don’t care if you’re the lead.  I just lost all connection to you.  Not a good way to start the film.

To add to that, there is the bonus of all the penis jokes (Mitch shaves Dave in Mitch’s body, the confusion of whose penis is whose, etc), an entire Leslie Mann scene that can only be applauded for the ridiculous range of bowel movement sounds, a nine-month pregnant woman in a trench coat, and two babies with major issues.  If you have a movie with twins, there should be a lot of funny and cute moments.  It’s the opposite, here…it’s all just wrong.  First, one kid is constantly banging his head against the side of his crib.  I mean unnaturally hard…like in a possessed-by-a-demon way.  Then, in a scene with some projectile feces (you’ve seen it in the trailer), we get an obviously fake close up of everything down there that we just don’t need.  Finally, in a kitchen scene that’s supposed to show how crazy babies could be, we go back to the possession factor as one kid yields and throws steak knives as the other messes with a blender and licks electrical outlets.  Where is all this coming from?!

Oh, and speaking of the pregnant woman, I don’t care if shock equals funny.  I don’t want to see a woman naked, nine months pregnant, and wearing stilettos while the baby is kicking.  It’s not funny.  Ever.

Forgetting the raunchiness for a second, we STILL don’t have a decent movie.  We have a recycled one.  I felt like the writers were taking the basic plot outline and filling in the blanks with the craziest and dumbest things they could think of.  Dave’s assistant suddenly going from legal assistant to a fling-ready tomboy?  Acting like Mitch does and no one fires or kills him?  Lorno? And then, after all the crassness and poop jokes, you try to get serious and shove in a daddy issue for Mitch and a career issue for Dave?  Too late!  No one stays consistent.  Everyone is all over the place and out of character.  Stop trying so damn hard, don’t waste Alan Arkin’s time, and keep it simple!  And cut a half hour out of your two-hour running time!  After about twenty minutes, it got old…

The only thing that redeems this movie a fraction is the actors.  Despite me not liking the film, Reynolds and Bateman did a decent job in their roles.  It was great to see Reynolds back in VAN WILDER and WAITING form, even if he did play the straight guy for 80% of the movie.  Bateman played completely against Michael Bluth type here and does an excellent job showing us his asshole side.  Also, in one specific moment, after Mitch (in Dave’s body) meets his dad, Bateman was able to bring the emotion when he realizes he can’t be a quitter anymore.  Beautiful.  But again, with all the crap coming out of each of their mouths, it was like every time we started to like them, we got beaten back down with a Teddy Roosevelt big-stick.  Leslie Mann, a staple in all of husband Judd Apatow’s films, was amusing and heartfelt, although, I have to say, her nudity wasn’t necessary.  Yes, I’m a guy, but I thought more of her than to just have a useless topless shot.  Olivia Wilde was also a lot of fun, and showed off a sexy, funny side, something we don’t usually get to see from her dramatic work.  Too bad with all these great actors, we get absolutely no help from the script.

Overall, THE CHANGE-UP is a mess.  It is lazy, rehashed, and cliché, and filled to the brim with unnecessary sex and poop jokes that could have been written by a five-year-old and a monkey.  All the actors are better than this script, and it’s disappointing, because I feel like if the writers just gave a little more effort into some realism, we could have had something of much better quality.

GRADE: D

Mike’s LIKES:

1) ALWAYS SOLVE YOUR PROBLEMS WITH VIOLENCE: The one remotely amusing/touching storyline in this entire movie came on behalf of Cara Lockwood.  She was small and innocent, and seeing her take down her bully and the happiness on her face after was just plain adorable.

2) OLIVIA WILDE: The girl is gorgeous, and a great actress.  Here, she is just as unbelievably crass as the rest of the cast, but seeing as how this is her first showing of some ridiculous comedy in contrast to all her drama work, I have to give her a shout out.

3) NOT A QUITTER: The one time that Mitch (as Jason Bateman) snaps and says out of frustration that he’s not a quitter was a great little real moment.  I actually felt something for him.  Too bad the rest of the movie didn’t make me feel the same.

Mike’s DISLIKES:

1) CRASS HUMOR OVERLOAD: Wow.  There are sex jokes, poop jokes, double entendres, gratuitous nudity, more sex jokes, and a naked pregnant woman  in a trench coat.  The lines are crosses multiple times over to the point that it just got nauseating.

2) VERY BAD, VERY WRONG SFX: Seriously?  In a movie like this, you have areas that look like they were done by a crappy After Effects editor?  And the things that they used the effects for were even more disturbing!  Making a baby smash his head into the side of his crib, the same baby throwing knives like he’s trained in weaponry, a baby “kicking” in the stomach of it’s mother, and another baby’s butt twitching before it poops are all not very funny options for me.

3) OVERDONE, BY THE BOOKS, AND CLICHÉ: The only thing trying to make this film stand out from BIG, 17 AGAIN, FREAKY FRIDAY, and the slew of other body switch movies is its ridiculously dirty and overblown humor, and even that didn’t work.  So in the end, you’re left with a basic, clichéd waste of two hours.

4) WASTED STORYLINES—ALAN ARKIN AND THE BOARD: I don’t even know why Alan Arkin was in this movie.  The character was completely wasted, and you know the man was there to collect a paycheck.  Also, Dave’s board seemed like it would be a big plot point to be in on, but there was really no risk, and after all the ‘work’ Mitch put in, it all came down to a decision that a fifth grader could have made.

5) HOW THE HELL ARE THEY FRIENDS?  With such completely different lives, I don’t see these two as best friends at all. I see them as ex-best friends when Dave dumps Mitch because he realizes he needs better friends, but besides that, I see no reason why these two would even interact.

EXTRA FACTS:

1) Leslie Mann also played the wife of a man who switches bodies (Matthew Perry) in 17 AGAIN.  That movie was just a little more tame with the humor…

2) Jason Bateman was in TEEN WOLF TOO.  And with that, I give you this: http://wp.me/p1iBDa-2k1

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