I really enjoy these types of out of body experience movies where an actor will have to portray someone completely different than they normally would. One of my favourite episodes of Third Rock From the Sun is where John Lithgow and Kristen Johnston switch bodies. Their characters had been established over a few seasons by then and to see the two actors impersonate each other was a real treat. This movie is very similar. It establishes early on that Jason Bateman is a stick in the mud and Ryan Reynolds is the life of the party. Not much backstory is needed, the audience understands very quickly that these two guys are former childhood friends who have drifted apart over the years as Bateman became a successful lawyer and Reynolds revelled in his life of debauchery and partying. They eventually swap bodies after wishing they could be the other person late one night. It is never explained how this body switch occurs, but it doesn’t really need to be. The audience just needs to accept it has happened and enjoy the ride.
Reynolds and Bateman play similar characters they have in the past. We have seen Reynolds play an irresponsible womaniser time and again, just as we have seen Jason Bateman play the responsible dad figure so it is easy to believe these two in their roles at the beginning of the film. Their film history of usually playing the same type of character makes this movie all the more enjoyable when they switch bodies and the two actors need to switch personalities. It is a lot of fun seeing someone like Jason Bateman play a womanising actor who watches Law & Order so he can learn how to act professional while Reynolds is stuck in his body. Bateman gets a lot of laughs here, many of them unexpected as I was so used to seeing him play a stick in the mud like Michael Bluth in Arrested Development. Ryan Reynolds is fun too, but we’ve seen play a caring figure before in movies so it is not as surprising when is able to pull off Bateman’s character.
This movie is a lot of fun. I laughed a lot. There is quite a bit of gross out humour and some great one liners that are shared among all cast members. Everyone gets their chance to shine, but it’s Bateman who shines brightest. Especially when Ryan Reynolds character inhabits his body. I’m assuming Judd Apatow had something to do with this film because his wife, Leslie Mann turns up as Bateman’s wife. Olivia Wilde also plays a co-worker of Bateman that has always had a crush on him. She starts dating Ryan Reynolds while their bodies have been switched leading to a moral dilemma about what constitutes cheating and what does not. I laughed a lot during this film, it is well worth your time on a rainy day.
The Change-Up is your basic body swap movie, but with dudes instead of Lindsey Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis (or, if you prefer, Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris). So the concept might not be original, but the movie is still watchable.
This is a pretty standard gross out R-rated comedy, but what makes it fun are the charms of Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds. My love for Bateman has no end. I was first introduced to him as Michael Bluth in Arrested Development, and have watched pretty much everything he’s been in since then. He usually plays a likable nice guy, which is exactly who he plays here. However, once swapping bodies with Reynolds he is a selfish jerk with no direction in life. It’s fun seeing him play against type, especially since he’s surprisingly great at it.
Now, I typically don’t care for Ryan Reynolds. This is because he’s often cast in roles that don’t really suit him (Green Lantern), or shoehorned into movies to bring levity (Blade: Trinity). But when he’s appropriately cast, as he is here, he’s an absolute gem to watch. He manages to bring an affable charm to his loser character, and manages to be even more charming when taking on Bateman’s persona. Sometimes it pays to stick to with what you know.