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Friday, October 14, 2011

The Change-Up

"I don't know why we agreed to this either, Ryan!"
At seems that at least a few times a year, movies are released that test the attention span - and maturity - of their audience. I'll be the first to spoil the big surprise here - there's a projectile poop scene. And, I swear to God, the review almost writes itself. Take Jason Bateman, who seems to be one of the busier actors this year, and put him with Ryan Reynolds, who seems to be one of the busiest actors in general, and put them in a Freaky Friday rehash, and you might expect some comic gold, right? Well, your head is in the right place, but your expectations might be too darn high. What we're given instead is one of the raunchiest - for the mere sake of being raunchy - comedies I've seen in a long time. This makes Reynolds' Van Wilder seem like Elmo in Grouchland. 

And that's being kind. 

As I mentioned before, with the need to point it out again, there's a projectile poop scene. With no build up. That's how we're told what kind of movie this is - all of the intelligence of subtle comedy is thrown out the window for the chance to have a kid drop a deuce on Jason Bateman's face from across the room. The Exorcist never seemed more watchable, right? And I've never long for a Lindsay Lohan movie more than when I was watching this. Sure, the R rating for "everything under the sun" should have given the crudeness away. But, not the lack of intelligence. Nor the lack of faith in its audience. 

Our story begins with Dave (Jason Bateman) being a good guy. He's a father of three, a dutiful husband, and an excellent lawyer on the brink of the biggest corporate merger of his career. Inexplicably, his best friend is Mitch (Ryan Reynolds). A pot smoking, lecherous, struggling actor living the life of his dreams - no life at all. Our story really only begins when Dave and Mitch go to a bar to watch a game, as they haven't hung out in a while. Which makes enough sense; they're busy. Well, Dave is busy. But, never mind. They go to the bar and get far more drunk then men of their age should and Dave falls in love with Mitch's lifestyle while he listens to Mitch go on and on about the random women that he's sleeping with, including the enigmatic Tatiana. Sounds great, right? I'm not a saint, and I certainly understand the struggle of monogamous relationships - but Dave seems a bit more unhappy than he should. He avoids couples therapy with his wife and wishes for Mitch's life. Mitch, the same, wishes for Dave's life. As they pee together. In a fountain. Drunk. In public. 

They pee together in a fountain, drunk in public. 

This is our movie. There's a rolling black out, and by the time they wake up the next morning, they got their wish. Dave wakes up in his home next to his wife (Leslie Mann) and has to take care of the three children, while having Mitch's personality drive him. And Mitch wakes up, and has to go to his first big movie role as Dave. Which is the only funny thing in the film, as it's a "lorno movie". Or, a light porno for those of us not in the business. Now, I'm only a writer, but I make a decent living doing the things I do. And as bad as I want to work in film (it's the dream, yeah), even I wouldn't take a "lorno". Still, though, the scene is damn funny, mainly because Reynolds is a talented actor and mimic. 

One more thing that drives my distate in the story and film is that this is one of the films whose trailer contained all the funny moments. Trick is, the funny moments in the trailer aren't in the film. So, the film's funny content is belied to us and therefore not as funny as the trailer. Which isn't even related to the movie, in theory. There's the obvious outcome to the film where everything is set right and all is well again, as they learn to appreciate their lives. 

And they pee together in a fountain, drunk in public.