Vicki Briganti – WWJ-TV Writer / Producer / Editor
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fountain.
I was excited to see The Change-Up because the trailer looks funny, and Ryan Reynolds is the Sexiest Man Alive. He makes me laugh, and I’ve kept my eye on him since his Van Wilder days. I was curious how the director of Wedding Crashers and the writers of The Hangover would handle a male version of Freaky Friday.
The resulting movie is silly with touching moments. Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses) plays Dave, a successful attorney and responsible family man. Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern) is his best friend, Mitch, a would-be actor and womanizing bachelor.
While urinating in a fountain, they wish they could swap lives and voila: their wish is granted. Dave gets to spend his days skating, watching movies, and sleeping in. Mitch gets to change diapers, wear a suit to work, and deal with a wife and kids.
In real life, would these two friends with such disparate lives even be friends let alone best friends? Would a wannabe actor/stoner with no law degree really be able to negotiate a $700 million dollar deal? Unlikely. But as with most Hollywood comedies, you have to suspend reality to enjoy the film.
In his previous roles, Jason Bateman has perfected an unflappable poker face amid a sea of chaos. (Think Arrested Development.) It’s entertaining to see Reynolds try to pull off Bateman’s understated deadpan, sardonic, straight man whose motto is: “Strive for verbal resolution.” He does a decent job, and it’s fun to watch Bateman stretch his acting skills playing his cursing, immature, and often-inappropriate best friend whose motto is: “Always solve your problems with violence.”
Like a fly on the wall, they “overhear” their loved ones confess the hard truth about their personalities. With words like “quitter” and “workaholic” ringing in their ears, they each try changing for the better. During the change, they realize their lives weren’t so bad after all.
Some scenes are as gross as in Bridesmaids. The Mitch inside Dave has a kitchen meltdown with the babies. I don’t know about you, but a baby holding a butcher knife or potentially being electrocuted is never funny, even in suspended reality. I guess you’ll either cringe like I did or think it’s hilarious.
The shining jewel of the film is Leslie Mann (Knocked Up). She plays Dave’s wife, Jamie. Her character is real and sweet. There’s nothing silly about her committed performance. She gives heart to the role and can make you chuckle and tear up in the same scene. She’s four-stars in a two-star movie.
The Change-Up opens in theatres August 5th. The website is www.thechangeupmovie.com.
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