Review: The Change-Up Blu-ray

The Change-Up Blu-raySTUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: David Dobkin | CAST: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde, Leslie Mann, Craig Bierko, Alan Arkin
RELEASE DATE: 11/8/2011 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $34.98
BONUSES: commentary, two featurettes, gag reel, deleted scene
SPECS: R/NR | 113  min./118 min. | Comedy | 2.40:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, Spanish and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The friendly and familiar “body-switching” film subgenre gets a Freudian overhaul in The Change-Up, a surprisingly crass and immature comedy that swims in the same viscous waters as old Sigmund’s proposal that a man’s psychosexual development comes in five stages: oral, anal, phallic, latent and genital. Most of these stages are represented in The Change-Up, some much more graphically than others, so trust us when we advise you not to jump into its depths too quickly.

The Change-Up

Full of crap?: Jason Bateman (l.) and Ryan Reynolds star in The Change-Up.

Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses) is corporate executive Dave, an uptight workaholic with a three small kids — one of whom, an infant, poops in his face at the movie’s five-minute mark — and a wife (Leslie Mann, I Love You Phillip Morris) who feels neglected. Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern) is Mitch, a single ladies’ man wannabe actor who lives a virtually responsibility-free life and smokes a lot of weed. That these two guys have been lifelong friends is even harder to believe than that the film’s main premise: one night, after drunkenly peeing into a local fountain while admiring each others’ lives — zappo! — the two awake the next morning to discover they’ve switched bodies!

What follows is familiar to anyone who has seen Freaky Friday or any of the other movies of this vein, with the men trying to adjust to each other’s personal and professional lives and making a lot of mistakes along the way. Eventually, they bring something fresh to each other’s outlook and attitude, and when they reverse back to their original bodies, they’re ready for a new start.

But what’s with all the cheap sex jokes and toilet humor, farting and pissing, defecating and pregnant sexual encounters along the way? Written by Hangover scripters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore with the charm of a pair of drunken frat house roommates (the kinds of guys who would piss into a local fountain — if they were 18) and lazily directed by David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers), The Change-Up brings nothing fresh to the body-switching template. In fact, it only serves to soil it.

Everyone involved, including leading ladies Olivia Wilde (Tron: Legacy) and the comically gifted Leslie Mann, should forget they did this movie and move on to something genuinely funny.

That said, the Blu-ray looks and sounds fine, and it offers an assortment of bonus features that includes a gag reel (many of the gags involve the actors flubbing their lines and cursing), a featurette that reveals how the baby poop scene was created (did we need to see it more closely?) and a 6-minute deleted scene that finds Bateman and Reynolds duking it out over their dilemma.

The most insightful look into the film’s raison d’être is the featurette Time for a Change, wherein the cast and filmmakers talk about taking a genre that’s usually associated with family films and giving it a “hard R’ makeover. Practically everyone in the featurette drops the “hard R” term, with Bateman in particular expressing that he was excited at the prospect of bringing a more adult spin to the material given the roomier parameters of the rating.

Call me crazy, but if endless jokes about genitalia and excretory functions and extended shots of men peeing, infants pooping and prosthetic and/or CGI-rendered nudity are the stuff that “hard R” films are made of, I’ll just pop in a “tamer” comedy so I can feel more like a grown-up. Or maybe I’ll watch Face/Off again. Now that’s what I call a “hard R” body-switching flick — and it’s sorta funny, too!

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.