The Change-Up (R)

Comedy 101 August 5, 2011
By Karina Longworth
A uniquely Freudian entry in the body-switching comedy canon, The Change-Up stars Jason Bateman as anal-retentive lawyer/family man Dave, and Ryan Reynolds as Dave's classically anal-expulsive stoner/playboy childhood friend Mitch. One drunken night, Dave admits that he's secretly jealous of Mitch’s life of reckless indulgence. Thanks to some hazy mechanics involving a stroke of lightning and public urination, Dave and Mitch wake up the next morning having exchanged bodies. The Change-Up might not be terribly interested in explicating exactly how pissing can activate the transfer of souls, but it is interested in piss—the ugly realities of bodies and the fluids they excrete. A rare R-rated entry in a genre usually geared to teens that pivots on the discrepancy in life experience and hipness between an adult and an adolescent, The Change-Up distinguishes itself as a kind of horror-comedy built around men in their late 30s confronting the basic facts of bodily function as if for the first time. From shit to schmaltz: "We have to use this!" Mitch says through Dave's mouth. But, par for the course, attempts to capitalize on their mystical accident turn the two bros into Better People. Once Dave and Mitch work out all their shit (metaphorically speaking), the film's final dialogue exchange reveals The Change-Up to be one long setup to a bromantic joke that maybe comes closer than any previous film to fulfilling that woebegone subgenre's implicit homoerotic endgame.
David Dobkin Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, Mircea Monroe, Gregory Itzin, Ned Schmidtke, Ming Lo, Sydney Rouviere Jon Lucas, Scott Moore Neal H. Moritz, David Dobkin Universal Pictures

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