Body-switching comedies have been a staple in family films for years. The genre was jumpstarted with Disney’s original “Freaky Friday” in 1976 and has been chugging away for over four decades. Even though traditionally these types of movies are family-friendly, every once in a while a film comes along and breaks those conventions bringing about an unexpectedly fun time at the movies. The newest film to join this illustrious few is “The Change-Up,” an R-rated comedy starring Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds.
In this story, Dave (Bateman) and Mitch (Reynolds) are best friends who lead opposite lives. Dave is an up-and-coming partner in a law firm with three kids and a beautiful wife (Leslie Mann). Mitch, on the other hand, is still living the wild life. He sleeps with different women every night, has no responsibilities and a questionable “acting” career.
At first glance, both men seem happy with their respective life choices. However after a few drinks at a local bar and a simultaneous urination session in a public fountain, the truth comes out-each guy wishes he had the other’s life. The next morning, Dave and Mitch wake up in each other’s body and the fun really starts.
Written by “The Hangover” writers, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, “The Change Up” brings adult humor firmly into a genre that was growing somewhat cliché. How many times has the audience seen parents and children switch places to learn some moral lesson about the grass not being greener on the other side of the fence? Granted, it’s a great lesson, but it gets a little old when it’s done the same way in every one of these films. Obviously, “The Change-Up” has many of these same qualities, but its delivery is what makes it stand out. This film is an in-your-face, unapologetic, adult comedy. Sure, it has a few sweet moments, but just like “The Hangover,” they serve to make the characters and the film relatable.
Both Bateman and Reynolds excel in these types of films. They are absolutely hysterical from the opening scene until the credits roll. Bateman leaves behind his usual straight, sardonic character type to play the loose, irresponsible Mitch after the body-switch. Likewise, Reynolds is exceptional playing opposite Bateman. Their chemistry and timing on screen really makes this movie work.
Not to be forgotten, Mann holds her own in this over-the-top comedy. She’s gorgeous, but doesn’t mind engrossing herself in the base humor of the film. Her Thai food bathroom scene is completely brilliant.
All in all the body-switching genre has seen some great highs (“Big,” 1988) and some dreadful lows (“Switch,” 1991), but very few have been as raunchy or as funny as the “The Change-Up.” For an adult night out, this film serves as a needed break from the routine.