Husband and father of three Dave Lockwood is too busy to have any fun. In contrast, his best friend Mitch Planko is single, good-looking and has an eye for the ladies. After a heavy night drinking, the men decide to relive themselves in a fountain. Little do they realise that their wish to swap lives is about to come true…
By their nature, bodyswap films are formulaic. They tread a familiar narrative path, offering the same lessons and often the same type of humour. This does not mean that cannot be fresh and enjoyable, however. The 2003 remake Freaky Friday is a good example of this. Unfortunately The Change-Up does not do anything particularly innovative with the sub-genre.
The humour in The Change-Up works some of the time. For the most part, the comedy is crass. The film relies on gross-out humour to entertain, which is a hit-and-miss strategy. On the one hand, some of the jokes and situations are amusing. One the other, the vulgarity appears solely for shock value in some of the scenes. Nevertheless, it is the emotional scenes in the film that ring hollow. Writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore would have been wiser to forgo the whole serious strand and concentrate on making the audience laugh.
There is a lack of character development in David Dobkin’s film. The Change-Up relies on lazy stereotypes rather than attempting to craft authentic characters. This is particularly pertinent in the case of the two main female characters in the film. It does not seem that too much thought went into constructing these characters. Dave’s wife Jamie is one-dimensional as the nagging housewife. Dave’s colleague Sabrina, meanwhile, only function seems to be as the obligatory eye candy. The result of this lack of development is that the audience may well find it difficult to care about the outcome of the film.
Jason Bateman does his best as Dave, but is ultimately let down by the material. Other performances, such as Ryan Reynolds’ Mitch, are lacking. Leslie Mann gives a tired performance as Jamie in a role she seems to have played before.
The Change-Up is not painful viewing, but it is not exactly enlightening either. Bodyswap movie enthusiasts and fans of Reynolds and Bateman are likely to be disappointed.