Published Aug 04, 2011One of the tenets of film theory is that you can predict how an entire movie will unfold through its opening scene if you analyze it correctly. In The Change-Up, the opening scene features a baby projectile shitting into Jason Bateman's mouth. I honestly couldn't sum up this nasty, insular, embarrassingly solipsistic, supposed comedy any better.
In concept, this generic boy comedy from the writers of The Hangover and the director of The Wedding Crashers (like that's something to be proud of) looks to take the R-rated, satirical approach to the endlessly exploited Freaky Friday formula by having pot-smoking womanizer Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) switch bodies with bland, married douche Dave (Bateman). This could work if there was some sort of wit and/or perspective on the ordeal, but this lazily hashed together tripe is more interested in doling out uninspired jokes about eye fucking, Down's syndrome, childrearing impropriety and, well, faeces.
Since the core story is essentially one of gushy, heteronormative familiarity, with Mitch realizing that he has to grow up and Dave learning to value family over career, these over-the-top grab-bag jokes and unnecessary boob shots act only as a mask to cover up the fact that this is uninspired schmaltz. Sure, the occasional mad scramble at humour – from within a very narrow, simple lexicon – works, like when a baby sticks its tongue in an electrical socket or when Dave is forced to perform in a softcore porn, but most of these setups fall flat, doing little more than making the audience feel embarrassed for the actors.
One can hope that this nonsense will fail at the box office, starting a long-needed revolt against the tedious frat-boy comedy trend, but it's unlikely. It's also unlikely that anyone will notice how desperate this comedy of moronic characters, misogyny and desultory construct is, given the many bouncing breasts visible and countless redundant gags that only step outside the box far enough to amuse the simplest of creatures without confusing their base sensibilities. (Universal)