Movies are... well... funny, complex, interesting beasts. The greatest story in the world can be ruined by bad acting, bad directing, bad editing. Probably a number of other things, too, but you probably get the idea. Okay, well, a bad screen play if it's a work that's being adapted. On the other hand, a bad story, even a horrible story, can be elevated by great acting. Or an actor with great charisma. Or great directing. I could give examples, I suppose, but, really, why bother?
I suspect The Change-Up is a bad movie. Maybe even a really bad movie. But I can't tell, because I love Ryan Reynolds, and I love Jason Bateman. I don't think either of them are great actors (although, it's hard to be sure with Reynolds), but they both have a certain amount of charisma, and I tend to just like them. Having them together in The Change-Up throws up a really big smoke screen for me, and I'm having a lot of trouble seeing through it, or past it, to the actual movie. I loved their performances so much, that I really enjoyed the movie. Even if, as I said, it's really just a bad movie.
What I do know is that there were some "jokes" in it that were fairly offensive. Not in the "that's offensive but funny" way but in the "that's just offensive" way. Like when Mitch (while in Dave's body) sees Dave's wife breastfeeding and completely freaks out about it. Okay, so him freaking out is funny but not in a good way. There's been a lot in the news lately about the prejudice Americans have against women and breastfeeding, and this kind of thing just upholds those biases, and I find that offensive. Also, again with Mitch in Dave's body, witnesses Dave's wife going to the bathroom after eating something that... disagreed with her. He's disgusted by it and announces (remember, this is Mitch in Dave's body, and Dave's wife thinks it's Dave), "You are no longer attractive to me." While we may laugh at the character (and I'm pretty sure I did), it's not a nice sentiment and not really funny except in that anyone could actually react that way. Except that people do react that way, that way that says women should not be allowed to fart in public or, even, in front of significant others, and this, rather than challenging that perception, says it's okay to think that way about it.
There are many, many other things of this nature in the movie, but I don't want to talk about all of that. Because, despite these issues, I really enjoyed this movie.
Maybe, I should say I really enjoyed the actors.
There are problems, though, even with that. Not with them in this movie, but in the fact that it's hard to feel like they were acting.
I don't, of course, know either of these men in "real life;" however, the perception is growing that both of these guys are just being hired to play themselves. At least, themselves as everyone else sees them.
Before Arrested Development, my best memory of Bateman is from Teen Wolf Too. Yeah, that was a long time ago. Since Arrested Development, pretty much all he's done is play Michael Bluth. Don't get me wrong, I love that character, and I loved the series, but I'm sure he's capable of more than that. But we don't get to see it. But he's the guy to get when you need someone to play that kind of role. Like in Horrible Bosses (which I loved). Or The Change-Up. It leads to the perception, though, that this is the actor. That he's just getting these roles because this is whom he is and why get anyone else to do it. So far, it's working for Bateman.
Ryan Reynolds, not so much. I'm sure Reynolds is capable of more than just being... himself. At least, the himself that he's established through such roles as Van Wilder and Hannibal King (in Blade: Trinity). And The Change-Up. Don't get me wrong, I love him in that persona (even if it's not really who he is (although interviews with him tend to lead me to think that that is a lot of who he is)), but he's been great when he's stepped outside of that box, too, like in Definitely, Maybe (which actually made me cry) and The Proposal. The problem lies in when he's hired to "be himself" in a role in which he should be someone else. Like in Green Lantern. Because in Green Lantern, we needed to see Hal Jordan, but all we got was Ryan Reynolds in green CG tights.
Whatever the case, Reynolds and Bateman being who they are known to be really worked in The Change-Up, and I overlooked a lot of what I would have said was bad if it had been two other actors. The made it fun, and you just can't help liking them. I do want to say, though, that this idea of the highly divergent socially classed friends is a myth that doesn't work and is getting old. There have been sooo many studies done about why these friendships don't work (and they don't work, which is why they are studied) that's it getting a little overly done to keep seeing them in movies like they do work. They are, I suppose, entertaining to watch, though, and Bateman and Reynolds doing that was certainly entertaining.
As for the rest of the movie, well, the rest of the cast:
Alan Arkin was back playing what seems to be the only role he's any good for anymore: the old, crusty father with issues with his children. He's good at it, but when did that start being the only thing he's good for?
Olivia Wilde was along as the pretty face. Again. Wasn't I just talking about her? I don't see that she can act. Her part was completely interchangeable. And, I suppose, my real issue is that I just don't understand what everyone else seems to see in her. She's not that pretty. Or hot. Or whatever. Maybe, that's just me. At any rate, she didn't bring anything to the role that a dozen other actresses couldn't have brought and brought better.
Leslie Mann, on the other hand, is someone I think is attractive. And she's funny. She would have been harder to replace. Not that the role required too much from her, but she knows her comedy beats and pulled them off quite well. Off the top of my head, I can't think of anyone better for that role.
Anyway... I loved the movie. It made me laugh. And I was pissed off to discover that, because we netflixed it, it was one of those "blocked" dvds where the special features are on the disc, but you can't access them because it's a rental. I enjoyed the movie enough that my gut reaction was "darn, now I want to go out and buy this, because I really want to see this stuff." But I'm not going to. Even though I want to. I'm not playing that game with those people, and it pisses me off that they make me even think about it! Bah!
If you like Ryan Reynolds, you'll probably enjoy this movie. If you like Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, you will enjoy this movie. If you like crude and inappropriate humor, you'll love this movie. If you don't... well, you should probably just stay away.