21 and Over is pretty standard college-based comedy fare. Whilst there are some laughs, they are not enough to make the film really memorable.
Jeff Chang’s best friends from school, Casey and Miller, surprise him on his 21st birthday. The pair have a big night out planned, but Jeff has an important medical school interview the next morning. Casey and Miller suggest a few drinks, but this quickly descends into something else…
From the writers of The Hangover, the parallels between the basic premise of the 2009 hit and 21 and Over are abundant. The narrative features standard mishaps. There is not a whole lot of originality in Jon Lucas and Scott Moore’s film.
There are laughs in 21 and Over, although the film does rely upon crude humour. The dialogue apes the quick-fire insulting of Superbad, although it isn’t as successful. Some of the derogatory remarks hit the mark, while others appear a little tired.
The second half of the film ushers in a little seriousness in terms of the motivations of the main characters. This plays out in a rather schmaltzy manner. In attempting to inject some sincerity into the story, the filmmakers call for a depth that simply is not there. This is not a huge hindrance, but the attempted emotion adds nothing to the overall plot.
21 and Over features the requisite elements of the American young male comedy. The soundtrack is integral at times; with the party sequences being raucous.
Performances in 21 and Over are fine. Sklar Astin and Justin Chon are believable as Casey and Jeff Chang respectively. Miles Teller is in danger of being typecast in this type of role however.
21 and Over adds little to the comedy genre. Those who go in will likely know what to expect, and will probably enjoy the film as a result.
The Change-Up is a by-the-numbers bodyswap comedy that distinguishes itself from others in the field by the level of toilet humour. This is not enough to sustain the film’s 112-minute running time.
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.