In honor of the killer Deadpool trailer shown at SDCC (what? Google y’all) I present an earlier work in Ryan Reynold’s oeuvre: The Change-Up. As always, clicky on the title for the original piece!
The body-swap. It’s an old favorite, been around since time immemorial. Like Father Like Son, Prelude To A Kiss, The Hot Chick, 18 Again (not to be confused with 17 Again, which is a teen-again thing. Totes diff.) And let’s not forget Freaky Friday, Freaky Friday, and, of course, Freaky Friday. Can you merge the fratty humor of The Hangover with a body-swap story and make it fun to watch? With The Change-Up, that’s a yep, you bet.
Dave Lockwood is a Type A lawyer in hyperdrive. He works, lives and even sleeps according to a set of rules so tight it’s a wonder he’s got time to use the bathroom. Oh wait, he kinda doesn’t. Mitch Planko is an over 30 Man/Boy who couldn’t grow up if his life depended on it. His life consists of morning bong hits, “acting gigs” (a.k.a. blissful unemployment) and bangin’ anything with hooters in a 5 mile radius. Felix and Oscar…sorry, Dave and Mitch, have been besties since 3rd Grade, even though they appear to be opposites. So when they’re peeing in a fountain one night (because that’s just what guys do) and wish for each other’s lives…bammo! Just be careful what you wish for, fellas.
Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds do a fantastic job here. Bateman and Reynolds are able to switch from one character to the other easily, and it looks like they’re having a ball doing it. Bateman gets to bust out of his usual good-guy cookiecutter role when he’s Mitch-as-Dave, and it’s fun to watch him whip out his Arrested Development dry humor. Reynolds takes the party boy Mitch and jumps the characterization into hyperdrive, poking fun at men that don’t wanna grow up. He also has fun with the whole idea of unemployed/underemployed actors; a scene with Dave-as-Mitch at a “big break” for Mitch is horrifying and hilarious at the same time. It’s a perfect blend of low humor and slapstick, and Reynolds pulls it off without a hitch.
Olivia Wilde (Cowboys & Aliens, House) plays the requisite wet dream co-worker, law associate Sabrina McArdle, and thanks to her talent (yes she’s got actual talent fellas; stop drooling at her for a sec and you’ll notice) she’s able to give Sabrina a wry sense of humor and dash of bad-girl mojo that plays well with the character’s lawyer day job. Wilde is believable as an associate in a high powered firm, unlike some other high-brainpower characters in other movies I oculd mention (*cough*DeniseRichardsIsNoPhysicist*cough*). Leslie Mann (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up) plays Dave’s wife Jamie, and she gives a her no-holds-barred comedic performanc that amps up what could have been a token MILF role. Like Anna Farris, Mann will do anything for a laugh, and as anyone who has seen the trailer for this movie will know, she’s got no problem goin’ there this time.
A big part of the enjoyment in The Change-Up lies in the vicarious thrill of watching someone completely and totally fuck with the established norms of life. Watching Mitch-as-Dave, plowing through meetings with a potty mouth and a mind like a sailor on shore leave; haven’t we all wanted to go all Office Space at one time or another? (Except for me. I love my job. LOVE it. Hi, boss.) The Change-Up gives us the release we crave after swallowing our real thoughts one too many times. And Mitch is glorious in his complete and utter inappropriateness. He tells Dave’s little girl to “always solve your problems with violence”. He says one of Dave’s babies looks “a little Downsy” and that he’s gonna “wreck” Dave’s wife. He puts on an “Asian” accent when he talks to high-powered Chinese businessmen, and tells them they should all go out for sushi and ka-ray-o-kay. Sure, the “real Dave” would get canned, and probably sued for divorce. But who cares? It’s a fantasy, and he’s our id, unchained. As for Dave-as-Mitch, he gets to live the married guy’s dream; booze, boobies, sleeping in and a bathroom all to himself. He turns Mitch into a more user-friendly version, call him Mitch.2. And with Mitch-as-Dave running off the leash, it’s a nice balance to see Dave get a first look at himself as Mitch and scream, “I’m a douchebag!”
Of course Dave and Mitch realize that there’s no place like home, and life is best when you balance responsibility and fun. The bottom line of all body-swap movies is that your own life is your best life, be all you can be, carpe diem, yada yada. Just like slasher flicks, body-swap stories are the closest thing we get to morality plays nowadays. If this ain’t your first time to the rodeo, you know how it’s gonna play out right from the start. The Change-Up doesn’t say anything new, and doesn’t go in any unexpected directions. It’s here to entertain you, and it does the job admirably. If you’re looking for more from this film? Well, maybe you didn’t get enough love in your childhood.