Movie Review: “The Change-Up” is Literally the Crappiest Movie of the Summer
Poop is funny and so are farts. Most people turn up their noses at the concept, eschewing it as too low brow, but deep down any comedian worth his or her salt know that nothing translates as well across the entire range of human experience as a fart or a dook. Someone farting in a public place is just as funny in China as it is Brazil or India, or Kenya, or Ohio. It’s an undeniable fact of life. Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed The Change-Up.
The Change-Up is not a good movie, let’s get that out of the way early. If we’re going to be honest (and aren’t we always) then we can also admit that there’s nothing groundbreaking here. But who says that comedy always has to be innovative? Why can’t we settle for a bit of T&A and a bunch of profanity and diarrhea once in a while?
The premise of the film is a tired one, the old body-switch comedy. Jason Bateman plays Dave, a married father of three and a lawyer whose chances to make partner hinge on his ability to close a merger. His best friend, Mitch is a philandering high-school dropout who is ostensibly an actor, but really doesn’t do much more than, “eat hummus and masturbate.” Rounding out the cast are Leslie Mann, who plays Bateman’s wife, and my lover, Olivia Wilde who plays an associate at Bateman’s firm.
Basically, Dave is tired of his life and being worked to death and while the movie wants us to believe that Mitch is tired of being the bum at least subconsciously, it doesn’t do a good job of selling it upfront. In any case, after a night of drinking they have a heart to heart while urinating in a fountain and admit how much they want each other’s respective lives. They wake up the next morning all “Freaky Friday’d” (yeah I went there). Blah, Blah, Blah, they learn some lessons and appreciate their lives more and everyone lives happily ever after. If you went in expecting an Oscar winner you probably shouldn’t be watching movies, or walking around in public without a helmet.
As for the poop jokes, Bateman gets baby diarrhea to the face within the first five minutes of the film and it basically snowballs from there. Of course there’s the Leslie Mann pooping scene from the trailer (thanks for that by the way writers), Dave/Mitch is forced to shove his thumb up an old lady’s ass and there’s a few others, but really did you expect me to catalog them all? Other check-marks in the pro column include Mann’s and Wilde’s boobs as well as the overall likability of the cast. Bateman and Reynolds both manage to turn down the smarmy a bit and do an excellent, subtle job of mimicking each other’s mannerisms.
Unfortunately, as good as the acting is, it’s really not enough to overcome the writing. The most disappointing part of The Change-Up is that there’s a framework for an excellent comedy there, it just fails to completely rise to the occasion. As previously noted, there’s nothing wrong with poop and profanity, the problem here is that the cuss words often seem thrown in gratuitously, to substitute for actual jokes. It’s as if the writer’s read the script and thought, “Jeez, that line isn’t really that funny… I know I’ll just add f*cknut to it! Comedy gold!” In the end, the movie fails to walk the raunchy-smart line that this summer’s best comedies, Bridesmaids and Horrible Bosses tread so well.
If you want to see a good movie, I can’t recommend The Change-Up, but if you want to turn your brain off for a couple hours and look at a few boobs, then it’s not so bad. Or you could watch James Franco destroy the world by making apes smart. Your choice.