The Change-Up

Year: 2011
Studio: Universal
Director: Dave Dobkin
Producer: Dave Dobkin/Neal Moritz
Writer: Jon Lucas/Scott Moore
Cast: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, Craig Bierko

Normally I'd complain bitterly about how there are no new ideas being made into movies. I lived through this craze once with movies like All of Me (still the Godfather of the movie), then watched as Vice Versa, Like Father Like Son and 18 Again came and went. I watched few of them because I knew exactly what to expect and even the 80s craze for body swaps wasn't the first – the genre goes right back to Freaky Friday in the late 70s.

And you get exactly what you're going to expect here – the set-up of two people set in their very different ways but secretly envious of each others' circumstances, the swap that results in protracted, comic fish out of water scenes, the inevitable high stakes drama that makes them have to work together and the resolution where they realise they had the very thing that made them happy from the very beginning, they just forgot amid the crazy pace of life.

And of course, there's the requisite Middle American moral stance – getting heaps of hot chicks is bad, and the character that does it is ripe for redemption. The life of being saddled with kids, hard work, a mortgage and the crushing sexual familiarity of marriage is something noble to be lauded and presented as worth it no matter what the hardships, with no room for admitting that some people just aren't cut out for it.

But while I can itemise and tear down all the reasons The Change-Up shouldn't work from an almost academic perspective, there's one (actually two) reasons it does. Reynolds and Bateman are both very natural comic performers and the chemistry they share on screen makes the whole movie very funny (side splittingly, at times) and completely watchable.

Mitch (Reynolds) is the playboy who lives in a messy but sexy loft with countless drop-in girlfriends, Dave (Bateman) the hard working and married lawyer with broken sleep at 3am thanks to twin babies and a life almost void of sex and excitement. The reason they change is a complete Macguffin, an apparently magic fountain that then gets moved when they realise what's happened, giving them a few weeks of desperation in each others' bodies while they try to track it down to put things right.

Everything works out as you expect and ordinarily it would be crashingly boring, but you can believe Bateman and Reynolds have been friends all their lives and they have such easy, profane banter you can't help but buy into it. It's a guilty pleasure movie, but it's a pleasure nonetheless.

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