Movie review – Boys gone wild . . . Yuck

2011-10-01 16:01

Film: The Change-Up (UIP)
Director: David Dobkin
Featuring: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde, Leslie Mann and Alan Arkin
Rating: 5/10

David Dobkin, the director of The Wedding Crashers, returns with another lads-gone-wild comedy, this time making use of out-of-body experiences for laughs.

I held great hopes for this – I thought The Wedding Crashers was great fun, I really like Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds, and I enjoy body-swop comedies.

The package looked like a three-for-three bumper winner. As if that isn’t enough, the twosome who wrote it were the pens behind The Hangover, so that was the pretty bow on top.

But remember that “never judge a book by its cover” adage? It applies in spades to The Change-Up. Bateman is Dave, a hard-working lawyer who is a happily married father of three. Reynolds is Mitch, a feckless loser with no job and commitment issues.

They are best friends. Unlikely, but friendships forged in childhood last because of shared history even if shared values no longer apply.

After taking a leak in a public fountain, they wake up in each other’s bodies. So far, so good.

But from here on the film loses its way, taking the audience’s expectations, as well as a potentially killer set-up, and mashing both into a rather nasty, way-below-the-belt mess.

It’s very vulgar and misogynistic too. Loaded with stereotypes and predictable lashings of toilet humour, I lost my sense of humour soon after the set-up.

Mitch as Dave asks his friend about having sex with his wife, while Dave as Mitch has to fend off the advances of a variety of women, presented as caricatures of what men fear most in the bedroom. “Yuck” is the word that best describes most of this film.

Obviously Reynolds had his crass part in Van Wilder to draw on, but Bateman is too good a comic to end up making this kind of cringe-worthy film.

Again, I blame the Judd Apatow effect. Though Apatow, in his earlier films at least, knows how to dampen vulgarity with humour – his ever-growing cult of Hollywood followers can’t pull it off.

So, time and again audiences expecting a good laugh end up making do with crude sloppy seconds that leave a nasty taste in their mouths.

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