Another body-switching comedy? Seriously? From the peaks of Big and Freaky Friday to the low of Vice Versa — Face/Off being my guilty pleasure — we’ve seen it all. Really. We have. The makers of The Change-Up tell us we’ve never seen the R-rated comedy version. Now it’s here, and what The Hangover screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore have cooked up with Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin is nonstop raunch that decides too late that it needs to grow a heart.
What The Change-Up has on its side — and it’s not to be underestimated — is a pair of livewires. That would be deadpan dynamo Jason Bateman as tight-assed Dave, the family guy with three kids whose neglecting his wife (Leslie Mann, always delectable) to make partner at his law firm. That would also be Ryan Reynolds (sorry about Green Lantern), who is at his loose Van Wilder best as Mitch, Dave’s BFF — a toking slacker, softcore porn actor and perpetual thorn in the side of his dad (Alan Arkin, of all Oscar winners). One night, Dave and Mitch — drunk off their asses — pee in a fountain and wish they could trade places. It’s a long pee — was this film underwritten by Flomax? — but the spell is cast. That’s Dave’s brain in Mitch’s body enjoying close encounters of the kinky kind. And that’s Mitch giving Dave’s stuffy wardrobe a makeover (“those shoes look dangerously Italian”) as he puts his career on a cliff. It’s all a flimsy excuse for Bateman and Reynolds to break out of their respective boxes. Actually, they’re not that different. As actors, both lack the slob factor. I saw Mitch as an older Seth Rogen or a younger Bill Murray. No matter — Bateman and Reynolds make The Change-Up seem a lot better than it is. Each earns a star in my review. The movie would be literally nothing without them.