Dave (Jason Bateman) and Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) have been friends since they were kids but as adults the two find themselves at opposite’s end when it comes to their lifestyles. Dave is a busy lawyer and a stressed father of three. On the other hand, Mitch is a struggling actor who parties hard and sleeps with various women. On their way home after a drunken night of catching up, the men peed on a fountain while uttering how they wish they had each other’s lives. The next day, the two discovered that their ‘wish’ came true and their bodies switched. As the two men hunts down the missing fountain to get their lives back, Mitch and Dave have to deal with living the life of one another.
For a body-switching story to fully work the characters involved should have a clear contrast in personalities and this where The Change-Up is unsuccessful. The character descriptions for Dave and Mitch are on opposite sides with the former as the stressed out working dad while the latter is the womanizing slacker. However, the characters were thinly written that when the body switching happened already, you will hardly notice the difference. It does not help that Bateman’s and Reynold’s style of comedy are basically the same.
The Change-Up is also too busy on ramping up the dirty jokes rather than setting up situations where the jokes would come in naturally. It was aggressive with injecting one dirty joke over another in an attempt to shock the audience but bombarding the viewers with tacky humor could only go so far. There are gross out scenes in the movie which is supposedly funny but it’s just a ridiculous and cheap way to get an easy laugh.
The performances are okay but are clearly not maximized to the actors’ potential. Bateman adds layer to the characters (Dave and Mitch-in-Dave’s body) that the script could not give to. He has the ability to make an unlikable character tolerable. Reynolds as Mitch suffers from a horribly written character that is really hard to feel sympathy for while his portrayal of Dave-in-Mitch’s body simply didn’t work as it felt forced. The supporting characters didn’t leave much of an impact save for Leslie Mann who played Dave’s wife. Mann had one terrific scene in which she was expressing her frustrations over Dave but for most part of the movie she was underutilized.
The Change-Up tries to be an edgy comedy but it falters due to the misguided focus on raunchy humor. It’s a shame that the movie’s idea of adult humor is limited to poop jokes because R-Rated comedies could do so much more. In the end, the movie didn’t feel like an adult comedy but just something that hyperactive adolescent s could make up. 5 / 10