The Change-Up is a film that takes a very crude slant on the tried and true formula of switching bodies. Featuring Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman The Change-Up fails more often then it succeeds. Now that it is on Blu-ray we are offered an obligatory unrated version that tries to push the envelope even further.
The Change-Up is a story about an uptight lawyer named Dave Lockwood (Bateman) and his friend Mitch (Reynolds) who basically has no responsibilities. Dave has a wife, kids and a successful role at a prestigious law firm, and at times he is overwhelmed by it all and wishes he could have a simpler life. Mitch is a sometimes actor that sleeps with random (and kinky) women and just wishes he could have the perfect life he feels Dave has. One night after a long night of drinking they are urinating in a public fountain and say at the same time ‘I wish I had your life’. With that begins one of the most unlikely, and at many times insulting, series of events that veers from the successful body formula to the point of failure.
In many movies of this type you see each person trying to do the best they can in the others roles and in the end appreciating their old life and wanting it back. In this movie we see nothing of the sort, instead we see Dave toying with his fantasy of cheating on his wife and Mitch realizing he hated his old life and prefers Daves. In fact one of the few funny things about this movie is that the moral of the story is no one wants Mitch’s life, including Mitch. Over the course of the film we see Dave as Mitch trying to navigate through his ridiculous life of softcore porn and unexpected sex partners and Mitch as Dave screwing up his job and home life. None of these are well orchestrated and generally not funny at all.
That’s not to say there are no redeeming values to the movie, I am a guy so I laughed at some of the really outrageous scenes (and felt guilty afterwards). Also as a shameless guy I have to admit I sat forward a bit during the various nude scenes, in particular the surprising (and I later found out, fake) scenes with Mitch’s wife Jamie (played by the beautiful and under appreciated Leslie Mann). But these scenes were also ones that made me dislike the movie even more. As a guy who follows the ‘bro-code’ you never, ever mess with your friend’s wife and in this movie Mitch (in Dave’s body) was more than willing to have sex with Jamie until she grossed him out. What further turned me off is how little these guys care about each other or the people around them. I can appreciate bad people, I can appreciate bad scenarios, but I just can’t appreciate people liking characters when they are as utterly unlikeable as these two are.
The Change-Up could have been a fun movie, there is room for gross out humour, especially in body switching movies like this, but it was handled in a way that made most of the jokes fall flat. Bateman, Reynolds and Mann all try their best, but the scenarios, dialogue and movie itself is just not terribly funny. Hopefully when this type of film comes in style again (seems to happen every few years) someone else can have greater success with the formula.
While the film is of below average quality this excellent transfer certainly is not. I was very surprised with how crisp and detailed the imagery was throughout the film. Blacks are deep and inky, clothing, wrinkles and hair pop from the screen and there is nearly no digital noise to speak of. I have been really impressed with Universal’s Blu-ray releases lately, they are some of the best looking in the business and The Change-Up is no exception. The movie looks so great it makes the cringe inducing scenes nearly painful to watch and that is both a blessing and a curse.
Also impressive is the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track featured on the Blu-ray release. This is not an action film so there are no room shaking explosions but there is plenty of dialog and chaos that comes across very nicely. The audio mix is well balanced with conversations always clear amidst the rest of the audio experience. Rear speakers are used with minimal but fairly effective results giving us a surround experience that gets the job done. When the room is filled with babies or other crazy things the audio really shines, most of the time though it is a simple, but high quality, experience.
Ooh boy, the extras are slim pickings here with an unintentionally funny commentary track and a gag reel being the highlight. Seems the studio knew what they had on their hands and didn’t feel the need to invest in many bells and whistles for the Blu-ray release.
- Unrated Version: Shown as a completely separate feature, with a warning (are you sure you want to watch the unrated version?) and all the unrated version has 5 extra minutes. I watched only the unrated version (and will never watch it again) so I could not tell you what is deemed extra content here.
- Audio Commentary: Director David Dobkin performs a solo commentary which is fairly dry but is amusing in how he tries to defend/justify some of the weaker scenes. What would have been truly great would be to have Reynolds and Bateman joining in and riffing on the movie, but that is simply not good business.
- Time for a Change (HD, 7 minutes): A very marketing driven feature where the cast and crew try to sell the film while continually mentioning how raw and R-rated it is.
- Family Matter (HD, 5 minutes): A look at the babies and the ridiculous antics they were up to in this film.
- Fist Fight Deleted Scene (HD, 7 minutes): A silly and overlong and lame fight scene between Reynolds and Batemen.
- Gag Reel (HD, 5 minutes): Funnier than the movie itself and the only really great extra.
- My Scenes Bookmarking
- BD-Live Functionality
The Final Word
Movies, and especially comedies, are so subjective that I know some people will like this movie, but I simply didn’t. The humour falls flat, the characters are worthless human beings and most of the few laugh inducing moments were ridiculous sight gags. The movie at least looks and sounds terrific which is always a big plus in my book and is one of the packages redeeming qualities. In the end The Change-Up is an example of ‘could have, would have, should have’ syndrome, the pieces were there but the end result is not worth your time.