Director: David Dobkin
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Olivia Wilde.
Although admittedly I wasn’t expecting a lot from this film, a big part of me still felt disappointed. The Change-Up is your classic body swap comedy. Two best friends live very different lives; Dave is swept under juggling his demanding family and demanding job, whilst Mitch is a lazy bastard, unable to see anything through. Naturally they get drunk, piss in a fountain and wish to swap lives (as you do). I think you can take a pretty good guess at what comes next...
The comedy in this just wasn’t what I thought it would be. I knew it wasn’t going to be a great film but I thought it would be at least pleasantly entertaining. Although it was fairly entertaining, the comedy was very poor. Fair enough, there were a handful of moments that were genuinely quite amusing but other than that, all that came through were the writers distinct odour of trying too hard. I understand that we are supposed to suspend our disbelief, but it felt like at times they were asking too much. It seemed like they snubbed a lot of the wit by opting for cheap comedy instead, which unless I was stupidly drunk or under the age of 10, just isn’t funny to me.
A big problem to me was the way the character of Mitch came across. Yes, I get it is necessary for him to be a douche and self involved, however I feel that likeability is still a key element within this genre, and for me, the guy simply had none. It was Ryan Reynolds reverting back to his earlier days of poor comedy in Just Friends. After recently realising, with the help of Buried that he is actually a decent actor, it is very painful to be suddenly kicked back to this view of him. He is better than these characters. This isn’t to say Reynolds is bad in the film, I actually thought both him and Jason Bateman did a good job. I mean we have to believe these characters have switched places, and I found their performances believable. It was just a mixture of the script and the actual production of the characters that bothered me. It immediately sucked a lot of acceptable potential out of the idea slamming it hard into the ground.
The final issue I had with the script was the very poor structure. The predictability and cliché cheese at the end I can get on board with as it’s the sort of thing I’ve grown to expect from this kind of comedy; however a lazy constructed order of events bothers me. It felt like the writers had all these ideas, but instead of incorporating them into a smooth and ordered way, they just threw them into the mix in whatever order they landed. They tried to include some depth to Mitch’s character through the breaking relationship he had with his dad, however it came across really sloppy and like there was no real jurisdiction to it.
I can normally get on board with this typical comedy and I really felt like this film would be just another one that is a winner for mindless humour. Whilst I wouldn’t say I hated the film, I was left feeling pretty disappointed. Although not a hard genre to make, since every other body swap film has set the structure for it already, it seemed very rushed and that perhaps a bit more time could have gone into it. I quite enjoyed It’s a Boy Girl Thing and 17 Again – they are body swap films I could happily sit down and enjoy again. This one doesn’t quite cut it. I can’t see myself watching it again, even for mindless drivel. Definitely not worth an immediate watch.