In Home Viewings Review: "The Change-Up"

Dave (Jason Bateman) and Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) live very different lives. Between the demands of his wife (Leslie Mann), his children, and soul-crushing job, Dave doesn't have enough hours in the day. Mitch, on the other hand, spends his time playing video games, smoking pot, and sleeping with a variety of women while waiting for his acting career to take off. On a rare night spent hanging out with one another, the two friends end up peeing in a fountain together (because, you know, that happens) and voicing a mutual desire to have the other's life. Of course, when they wake up, they have switched bodies, granting the hastily-made wish from the night before. But as they each go through a litany of shenanigans, they soon discover that their own lives weren't so bad after all.

I'd like to take a moment and list for you, dear readers, the reasons why I saw The Change-Up.

1.) I was bored (always a good start);
2.) I wanted to watch something that wasn't too serious, too time-consuming, or too intelligent. Usually in these situations I end up renting a bad action movie or a lame comedy;
3.) (And I swear this is the truth.) I've given out a ton of positive reviews lately. When I've seen so many good movies in a row and I start to feel like I'm becoming Peter Travers, I often feel the need to watch something terrible just so I can rail against it and feel better about myself.

That's the recipe for watching a crapfest like The Change-Up (and by the way, if that wasn't your recipe for seeing this movie, if you actually wanted to see it, we need to talk). It was essentially a personal challenge to see if I could make it through the are-you-serious-it's-that-long??? 112 minute runtime and a chance to use all my favorite negative adjectives, like "excruciating" and "painful." Mission accomplished. This movie is, to put it nicely, completely and totally worthless. I laughed only a handful of times and even those moments were semi-awful. The characters are miserable and while director David Dobkin would like you to invest in their transitions, they start off so low and unappealing that I found it impossible to care whether or not they'd get their lives together within the runtime (again, 112 minutes; that's only 9 minutes less than Star Wars). In addition, haven't we all had enough with the body switching plotline? I'd be fine if Hollywood retired this concept forever; it's tired.

My biggest issue with The Change-Up, however, is in its need to tie the whole mess up with a nice and neat, "everyone learned their lesson and became better people" bow. This is a conclusion that simply does not fit the tone of the movie. One of the things that made The Hangover so successful (besides being, you know, actually funny) is that the characters don't suddenly become great people because of the events of their night out. Sure, Stu comes back with a spine and Phil softens up a bit but there's no "moral of the story" ending because that doesn't fit the film. The Change-Up goes the exact opposite route, tacking on a conclusion that goes against the grain of the movie. As a result, the movie seems like a PG-13 movie that was raunchy-ed up to get an R-rating, which is one of my biggest pet peeves. Either go full bore into that realm or stay out of it altogether. Of course, nothing could have made The Change-Up worth seeing but it could have at least been tolerable. As it is, however, this is an abysmal movie that will certainly wind up on more than a few "worst of the year" lists.

Grade: D