The Change-Up: A Good-Natured Comedy
The Change Up is
an exercise in opposites. Dave (Bateman) is an overworked lawyer and family man,
while his best friend Mitch (Reynolds) is a slacker actor. While peeing in a
fountain and envying each others’ lives, they accidentally switch bodies and
must go about as the other until they can figure out how to reverse the switch.
Ryan Reynolds should do more comedy. He’s hilarious whether as Mitch who
has no responsibilities and nothing expected of him or as Dave, a very
successful lawyer in the middle of the most important week of his career hoping
that his nincompoop best friend – now inhabiting his body – doesn’t mess up his
job and his already rocky marriage. His expression (as Dave) when surveying the
squalor that is Mitch’s apartment is priceless; especially
when he gets a look at the fridge.
A lot of the humour comes from Mitch’s ineptitude with Dave’s young
daughter, Cara, and his baby twins. While Dave is the image of the perfect
father, Mitch hasn’t the slightest clue what to do with kids, which results in
some pretty hilarious hi-jinks. Mitch pours milk on the twins, leaves them
unattended next to knives and electric sockets and teaches Cara to always solve
her problems with violence, which manifests itself as a pretty epic judo flip
in the middle of a ballet recital. Bateman does a great job portraying both
characters, but it’s when he goes so thoroughly against his type as man-child
Mitch that he’s at his funniest.
As a rule, The Change Up isn’t
mean or malicious. While Mitch is rather ridiculously sexist, his behaviour is
never allowed to slide. You’re not laughing with the sexist jerk, you’re
laughing at the depth of his misogyny. In addition, Dave’s wife Jamie (Mann) is
portrayed in a surprisingly sympathetic manner when she could have very easily
been written off as the nagging wife. Mann does a great job merging the
emotional and the comedic, and she ends up being the film’s heart. Jamie’s
married to a man who, although perfect on paper, is never satisfied. She barely
sees him because he’s so caught up with his work and while she knows that he
loves her and that he’s fully committed to the family, she doesn’t feel it
because he’s hardly ever around.
By the end, both men have realized that neither of their lives are as
perfect as they made them out to be and are fully ready get their own lives
back on track again. While The Change Up is pretty formulaic (It’s
basically Freaky Friday for dudes)
and you can tell exactly what’s going to happen from a mile away, it’s funny
and light and never grates on.