The Change-Up banks on our appetite for excrement | Film Review | Indy Week
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The Change-Up banks on our appetite for excrement 

Ryan Reynolds (foreground) and Jason Bateman change more than diapers.

Photo by Richard Cartwright

Ryan Reynolds (foreground) and Jason Bateman change more than diapers.

Remember that scene in Idiocracy where a movie-theater audience enjoys an Oscar-winning film that's nothing but somebody's ass onscreen, just flatulating away? To me, that's The Change-Up, two hours of Hollywood farting in my face—and the audience around me soaking it up, wanting more.

If you still enjoy the sort of bathroom humor that had you in hysterics back in grade school, this movie delivers those juvenile gags (in every sense of the word) in droves. The fecal fun starts with Jason Bateman getting a squirting stream of liquid baby shit in his face and mouth, and it gets more vile from there.

There is a story amid all this figurative and literal excrement: a dirty-minded Freaky Friday riff with Bateman's workaholic family man switching bodies with his best friend, Ryan Reynolds' irresponsible, uber-douchey struggling actor. (They both wish for each other's lives while drunkenly pissing in a park fountain.) As is par for the genre, the two bodies in question go through the four stages of body-switching. First, they go into manic shock. Next, they reluctantly, uneasily try to pass themselves off as the other person. Then they start to get used to being somebody else, even reveling in the other person's life. Finally, they come to the conclusion that this new meat suit isn't the Real Me, and they must get back to being themselves.

Since all this sounds dull and boilerplate on paper, Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin works his crude mojo and covers this face-off with a wall-to-wall mélange of dick, shit and piss jokes. He also uses female nudity for crass comic effect. Anyone who's ever wanted to see Leslie Mann (aka Mrs. Judd Apatow) completely butt-bald, here's your chance—except she'll be sitting on the toilet shortly afterward, dropping some loud bombs in there.

The Change-Up does give us the chance to see its two stars playing against type with obvious relish—after all, Bateman does his most scene-stealing work when he's adorably sleazy, and Reynolds is a lot more appealing when he's not in asshole mode. Nevertheless, you may feel long before it's over that you're too old for the shit (metaphorical and otherwise) this flick keeps slinging at you.

Film Details

The Change-Up
Rated R · 101 min. · 2011
Official Site:
Director: David Dobkin
Writer: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Producer: Neal H. Moritz and David Dobkin
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde and Alan Arkin


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