In a Freaky Friday manoeuvre for big kids, Jason Bateman — devoted family man — and Ryan Reynolds — irresponsible party hound — switch bodies and trade places.
On paper, it sounds awfully good. On screen, it’s more awful than good.
Maybe this whole switcheroo thing has simply been done to death and The Change-Up isn’t that bad. And truth be told, if you can survive the juvenile and embarrassingly stale script by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, it is fun to watch Reynolds and Bateman do their thing … even if this exercise has been so recycled, one of the film’s stars (Leslie Mann) attended the exact same dance two summers ago in 17 Again.
Bateman plays Dave Lockwood, a workaholic attorney so desperate to make partner at his law firm, his wife (Mann) and three young kids have to compete for his time. His buddy, Mitch Planko (Reynolds), is the exact opposite; a wannabe actor who wastes daylight hours getting stoned and bedding women. When the friends hook up for a night of boozing, they bemoan their existence and — while relieving themselves in what turns out to be a magic fountain in the middle of a park — they simultaneously wish they had each other’s lives.
Ka-boom. You know the rest. Dave wakes up as Mitch, Mitch wakes up as Dave, fountain goes bye-bye and hilarity ensues. Or so, one would hope.
The Change-Up isn’t great, primarily because it just isn’t fresh. Well, that, and the unfortunate fact that Lucas and Moore obviously think the mere utterance of the f-word is comedy gold. (I realize it’s a most versatile word, boys. I mean, how many other words can be used as a noun, an adjective, a verb and more, but here’s an idea; when you use it, as you do about nine thousand times here, have a reason to do so.)
It’s a good thing Bateman and Reynolds — both fine actors — are game to play (as is Olivia Wilde, who seems to relish her role as a good girl turned bad). Without them, The Change-Up would be a pretty ugly film. Yes, the switched-identity genre has never been quite so raunchy, but past that, nothing much has changed.
Out of a possible five stars, I’ll give The Change-Up a two. The feature is currently playing at the Pen-Mar Cinema Centre in Penticton.
Jason Armstrong is a movie reviewer living in the Okanagan.