“When the jokes aren’t too vulgar they are pretty clever, and the movie never really gets boring…”
The Godfather, The Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones; all examples of great trilogies in cinematic history. But none come close to my personal favourite trilogy: The Ryan Reynolds Mind-Swap Trilogy. My next three reviews will be dedicated to this classic cinematic trilogy starting with The Change-Up.
The Change-Up is a movie that I saw back when it was first released on DVD, and I remember not liking it. Because of this I was dreading having to watch it again, and cursing myself for committing to the “Ryan Reynolds Mind-Swap Trilogy”. But I still think that reviewing this “trilogy” is a funny idea so I sat down to watch The Change-Up. What I found surprised me because I didn’t hate the film at all; as a matter of fact I kind of liked it.
The Change-Up is a film about two childhood friends who grew apart, leading to very different lives. Dave (played by Jason Bateman) is a lawyer at a successful law firm. He has a wife and three children, two of which are infants. Mitch (played by Ryan Reynolds) on the other hand is the definition of a bachelor. He doesn’t tie himself down with relationships or jobs, instead “living” off of his dream of becoming an actor. When the pair meet up for drinks, they accidentally wish for each others lives while drunkenly peeing in a fountain. Of course since this film is part of my “Ryan Reynolds Mind-Swap Trilogy” I’m sure you can guess what happens next.
The Change-Up started and I instantly felt that I was right about hating the film. What we see when the film opens is a disgustingly crass scene of Dave waking up early to change the diapers of his two infants. We then see a hilariously bad display of CGI when the babies misbehave and eventually spray shit onto Dave’s face (and naturally, into his mouth). What I felt was a sense of dread. I was right in hating this film and now I had to commit to it. But then the film did something I would have never guessed: It became rather good. “Good” may be too nice of a term but the film was definitely watchable. The jokes turned from needlessly crass and perfect displays of “low-hanging fruit”, to rather clever in execution. A lot of this comes from the acting of both Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, and seeing the “fish out of water” reaction that each character had to the life of the other. Unfortunately The Change-Up once again did something unprecedented; it stopped being funny.
About halfway through the film the jokes just kind of stopped. Luckily the film didn’t seem to drag (at least too much), but I definitely found myself not laughing at all. This is the portion of the film that is interesting to me. We get to see (however shallow the presentation) the darker side of ‘mind-swapping’. The two characters in the film each get a chance to speak candidly to the people in their lives, and learn things that would otherwise have been kept from them. Of course none of these revelations have any real bearing on plot, but it was nice to see them nonetheless.
Despite liking most of the film I can’t deny that on a technical level The Change-Up is a complete fucking mess. First and foremost, the CGI is fucking awful. I already mentioned that the baby scene in the beginning of the film has CGI, but that’s not all. Pretty much every single scene with the babies has fucking terrible CGI. It made me wonder why the film even hired real babies. Of course I can understand why you can’t have a baby bang his head repeatedly on the side of a crib, but why the fuck do you have to pour CGI milk on the baby? Can you not just pour milk on a baby? What kind of world do we live in? And if you have so many problems with having the babies do all of that kind of shit, why even write it into the movie? Let’s face it, those parts of the film were the weakest so it would have been no problem to just scrap them completely. But instead what we got was a computer-generated mess that was attempting to be funny. The film also had issues with using takes of actors where they were obviously saying different things than the lines that we were hearing. I can excuse the odd over-the-shoulder shot where you have to use a different take for whatever reason, but don’t think I’m stupid. I can’t exactly read lips, but when the actors mouth stops moving and they still have half a monologue to get through I know that something isn’t right.
Overall is the Change-Up a good movie? I wouldn’t go that far. With jokes that can be needlessly crass and a myriad of technical issues The Change-Up is not a movie I would describe as “good”. Would I watch The Change-Up again? Absolutely. When the jokes aren’t too vulgar they are pretty clever, and the movie never really gets boring (at least to me).
I give The Change-Up a B