Renn: A giant pile of plot cliches stacked on the rickety frame of one of the dumbest of all comedy genres –the body swap– should not end up as a good movie, even if you tack on two crazy charming leads, a rare streak of genuine raunch, snappy dialogue, memorable gags, brighter-than-usual comedy filmmaking, wall-to-wall consistent laughs… Alright well, yeah. I guess all of those things together will save a comedy. They certainly elevate The Change Up as a sheer comedy experience, and that the film ultimately does right by its characters and keeps the routine bullshit to a minimum means it isn’t entirely a guilty one. The credit really does go to Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds though, as the film is utterly reliant on their comedy chops and their ability to sell a cheap gimmick. It’s to their immense credit that a pretty sloppy flick reads as something much better because they’re just so damn good.
Nick: The two leads are good but this is a very rickety armature to affix this kind of work to. Yes, it has some very funny moments and a cast of above grade talent (Leslie Mann and Olivia Wilde round out the foursome) but it also walks in so much familiar territory it’s hard to feel it has any life of its own. So much of the film is straight out of the playbook many of those great moments are sullied. That said, there is some refreshingly frank dialogue here and some rather acute jokes about relationships and life as a guy that the high peaks make some of those low valleys much easier to handle. It almost seems as if this is a few drafts away from being a classic but had to get out the gates in time to capitalize on this renaissance of R-rated comedy. And this is as R-rated as any comedy we’ve seen in a long time.
Renn: It’s definitely raunchy in a way you don’t see all that much anymore. There are some genuinely gross gags, and it’s not afraid to shamelessly show off naked flesh (often parlaying even that into another gross-out joke).
What shocked me though, was just how often I was laughing at the immature swearing-based jokes from Reynolds and the general “funny banter.” Reynolds and Bateman both bring something very different to that kind humor, not to mention more skill and charm than it really deserves, but they both knocked it out of the park. Reynolds isn’t a run of a mill screen presence, so when he’s making silly pot jokes he sells it far hilariously than most that would be in that position. Once the body-swap happens, I feel like they both did a fine job of selling the personality of the other (and this may be a point of contention between us), with Bateman truly knocking it out of the park. At this point Bateman has become entrenched as the fairly dry, snarky guy who knows how to punctuate a scene or a funny moment with wit, but he takes on the course, graceless “fuck this, fuck that” personality with aplomb. Reynolds does a good job in the reverse, but I never caught myself actually believing the production had pulled some WETA-style motion-capture body switching shit with his performance as I did with Bateman. Obviously Jason did his homework as a few times I was beginning to wonder if he was actually a digital creation overlayed atop Ryan Reynolds covered in dots and white balls.
Nick: I felt like they really didn’t commit to the mannerisms as much as you. To me Face/Off is the benchmark for that, watching two very good actors (who sadly often make every effort to make us forget that) riff on each other without making it arch. This doesn’t do that for me, but I’m content watching Jason Bateman say things I’m not used to seeing him say, and vice versa. This is a late summer comedy directed by David Dobkins. I’ll take what I can get. I’ll also take the obviously touched up nudity from pretty actresses and pixels. It’s fine. The bottom line is that in this film I get to watch a child’s asshole open up and unleash shit. That’s summer entertainment.
Renn: It doesn’t take much for a comedy to fall flat on its face, or get so insultingly stupid that it strips any enjoyment you might derive. Here a serviceable script is merely a platform on which two very different, very talented performers get to discover an unexpected chemistry and just riff away, making The Change Up more than worth one’s while. Decent dialogue elevated by great comedic performances results in a humorous enough comedy, that occasionally dips into being hilarious. It’s a perfect, light come-down after a summer of mind-numbing explosions and eye-glazing romantic comedies. I’ll take it.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Nick: One thing that really surprised me and to some extent took me out of the film how Atlanta it was. It’s all up there, many of the landmarks and aspects of the town, even its ball club. It’s a very Atlanta film, at least whenever the characters venture outdoors. It’s a neat bonus for a city that has spent so much of its time doubling for other places. In a year of good R-Rated comedies this comes short of Bridesmaids and Horrible Bosses but ahead of the next tier. It’s a fun Friday night out, especially of you like pissing, raw vulgarity, and a film that makes it seem like you can totally screw things up and still somehow win. It also paints Olivia Wilde as possibly the most unreal female character in history, but it’s a fantasy. We wish such a woman could exist and look like she does. And it’s good to see Alan Arkin, even if he’s obviously not very invested in the affair.
A good movie. Definitely worth a look.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars