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Review: "The Change-Up" Finds the Bottom of the Barrel

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman chat about their new "dark" and "dirty" R-rated comedy, "The Change Up." Also, was it difficult to try to copy each other's mannerisms for the movie? Plus, how did Jason prepare for his nude scene? (Published Monday, Jul 18, 2011)

    One might reasonably think that when a film's opening salvo involves a mouthful of baby diarrhea that things can only get better, and yet…

    "The Change-Up" is the latest, and worst, of this summer's tidal wave of hard-R comedies. It’s your standard body-swap flick, starring Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds as two old friends who've gone down different paths—Dave Lockwood is a family man and a lawyer, Mitch Planko is a bong-hitting struggling actor and ladies man.  After a few beers, some expressions of envy, a little public urination and a bolt of lightening later, the men find their wish has come true--they've traded bodies, and so, lives.

    What follows is a torturous exercise in gross-out humor that repeatedly fails to be funny, is often just plain dumb and wrongheaded, and whose few fleeting moments of genuine humor are promptly washed away by idiocy.

    The film was written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the men who penned "The Hangover," and was directed by David Dobkin, who directed "Wedding Crashers," so there was every reason to think that maybe these three could breath some new life into the old switcheroo. Instead, they repeatedly go bottom-feeding.

    Babies play with knives, stick hands in blenders and French kiss outlets, the very idea of having sex with a pregnant woman is found to be repulsive, a shiftless pothead somehow learns in a matter of hours the intricacies of a multinational merger, and we get to watch Leslie Mann in the throes of a bout of explosive flatulence.

    Watching Bateman play the scenes where he's inhabited by Reynolds' character is occasionally amusing, as the classic straight man gets to play against type as the cad. But Reynolds barely moves the needle when Dave inhabits him, because more than anything Dave wants to use the time to be like Mitch, which is to say masturbate and rollerblade.

    And then there's poor Olivia Wilde, whose run of poor choices continues unabated with a fourth consecutive dud of a role. Here she plays Dave's colleague Sabrina, whose sole purpose in the film is to be an object of lust, which is handy because it turns out she's fairly indiscriminate about who she sleeps with.

    People having been making funny movies littered with R-rated elements for decades, but with the genre in vogue thanks to the success in 2009 of "The Hangover," one gets the feeling that a few too many of these scripts are getting rushed into production. H.L. Mencken famously said that, "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." "The Change-Up" just may prove Mencken wrong.