Director: David Dobkin
Writers: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Cast: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde, Leslie Mann, Alan Arkin
SYNOPSIS: A over-worked, career-driven lawyer and married father Dave switches bodies with his wild-living actor-wannabe bachelor best friend Mitch, leading to chaos and disasters in both of their original lives.
REVIEW: David Dobkins, director of Shanghai Knights, Wedding Crashers and Fred Claus, takes a tale of body switching from The Hangover scribes Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. It's the same old classic story of two people (son and father, mother and daughter, friends) - who lead different lives, change bodies, explore the possibilities of the other person's life to ill effect, make personal self-discoveries about their lives, and yearn to be switched back to their old lives before the change is permanent.
A comedy body-switching sub-genre that includes Freak Friday in all of its iterations, Like Father, Like Son, 17 Again and Big, The Change-Up looks to ramp up the raunchiness with their rated-R version of this formulaic comedy main-stay. Stoic, straight man Jason Bateman teams up with the green ring-slinger Ryan Reynolds as polar opposite best friends Dave Lockwood and Mitch Planko. Dave Lookwood is the father of three whose self-imposed drive to further his career demands so much of his attention that he has little time for his wife Jamie (played with grace, humor and heart by Leslie Mann). On the other side of the body-switching coin is Mitch Planko who struggles through life aided by a schedule full of sex, herbs and paper, a GED and a laundry list of poor decision making. After a night of bar drinking, Dave and Mitch pee in a fountain and wish for each other's life, causing a rolling blackout and a seemingly permanent change in their minds and body. Dave, in Mitch's body, must abandon his mindset of always working and never relaxing, while Mitch, in Dave's body, must figure out how to handle the rigid schedules of ballet practices, 3am feedings of twins, and navigate his way through a merger agreement and documents that the real Dave had been preparing for months.
Leslie Mann comes on board as Dave's wife Jamie, a woman who is happy with the lifestyle Dave has provided for her and the kids and just wants Dave to slow down and give her a little attention. Olivia Wilde from Cowboys & Aliens joins the cast as legal eagle Sabrina who catches the eyes of both Dave and Mitch, regardless of what body they inhabit. Alan Arkin cameos as Mitch's father, hoping for a son who wants to turn his live around and finish at least one thing that he starts.
The R-rating offers a couple gross out laughs, a few of topless ladies, and more explicit language. There are some hits, but a lot of missed opportunities. One of the twins, before the 3am changings and feedings, continues to bang his head against the rail of his crib. Its mildly funny the first time, but quickly loses its ability to instill a laugh each time we see it again. The father/son relationship with Mitch and his father could have been developed more to give us some more tenderness. Most of the heart of the film comes from Leslie Mann's Jamie as she continues to stand by her man with the realization that she may become numb to the problems of the marriage. Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman play their duel roles well enough, but I know both have such wider ranges than what appears on screen.
Ultimately, The Change-Up will make you laugh a little, cry a little, and smile a little. In the end, though, The Change-Up could have very easily switches places with some of the other lesser worthy films in the genre. I love every actor and actress cast in the lead roles, but I think that maybe some of them wished they had woken up in the bodies of another film as well.