Movie Review: The Change-Up

By Stephen Rebello

The comic chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman makes this body-swap movie rude, filthy, outrageous and funny.

Director: David Dobkin Rating: R Studio: Relativity Media

The Change-Up is the latest in Hollywood’s apparently endless supply of body-swap comedies, a la 18 Again, All of Me, Dream a Little Dream, three versions of Freaky Friday and the like. These things all pretty much hinge on the same premise. Two people magically switch identities and, after a series of madcap, walk-a-mile-in-my-shoes adventures, end up desperately wanting their own lives back. The Change-Up fits the mold. But only by outward appearances.

There’s Jason Bateman, a highly successful, driven, drone of a corporate lawyer sitting pretty with a fancy-schmancy suburban home, a pair of twins, a precocious, bullied little daughter and a great, hot, working mother-wife (Leslie Mann). His friend from childhood, Ryan Reynolds, comes from money, lives like he’s 18, has women entering and exiting his life on a conveyer belt, sort of works at being an actor and never finishes anything he starts. Thing is, these plot details and clichés don’t really matter, not in a movie so shrewdly directed by David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) and hilariously co-written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (The Hangover).

As it turns out, The Change-Up is, at its best, genuinely rude, filthy, outrageous and funny almost all the way through. It constantly pops and delights with such wickedly funny gags as a head-banging, feces-spurting baby, a horny, aged, boobalicious porn star, a booty call with a very pregnant mother and lewd, choice dialogue, the best of which is spouted by the quicksilver Reynolds. The quotable pearls include the likes of, “I want to strap you to my face and say the alphabet” and, when Reynolds shows Bateman an iPhone photo of one of his sex buddies: “This, right here, is Brenda. She wants it in Missionary, Wheelbarrow, Arabian Goggles, The Pastrami Sandwich. Let me tell you, no man is that hungry.”

Reynolds and Bateman, highly watchable, skilled comedians, generate zingy, believable comic chemistry; their bromance throws off more sparks than most contemporary male-female movie star pairings. They’re so good, in fact, that at times they make you wonder what they could have done back in the days of comedy masters like, say, Preston Sturges or Billy Wilder. Added pluses also include a wry, scene-stealing turn from Alan Arkin as Reynolds’ father and deliciously funny, bold and sexy stuff—nudity included—from the gorgeous Olivia Wilde and Leslie Mann. Fully worthy of its R-rating, The Change-Up definitely delivers the late-summer raunch. And the side-splittingly funny.

About the Author

Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello has written many Playboy Interview and 20 Questions features. He is the author of such books as the notorious Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the latter of which has inspired a dramatic feature film set for production in 2012. His most recent Playboy Interviews include Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz.


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