The Change-Up is a "Career-Down" for everyone involved, a piece of cinematic baby poop so noxious, it could wipe out the rain forests. I was personally offended by every single minute of this stupid, curdled monstrosity. It is all the more depressing for how it sours the charisma of Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Olivia Wilde and especially poor Leslie Mann. The scene where Mann is forced to sit on a toilet and fumigate the bathroom with her Thai food diarrhea is the kind of thing you would force an actor to do when you really, really hate them. Similarly, Reynolds’ debased slacker and Bateman’s mopey drip make you wonder why they’re stars at all. My "Worst Movie of the Year" list just got a lot easier to compile.
Easily the worst entry in the Freaky Friday body swap oeuvre, The Change-Up presents us with two equally awful baby-men who exchange pea brains after peeing in a magic Atlanta fountain. Dave Lockwood (Bateman) is a work-obsessed family man while Mitch Planko (Reynolds) is a repulsive womanizer who trolls Lamaze classes for his sex partners. Alan Arkin plays his hugely disappointed father, echoing the audience’s feelings. Once they’ve traded places, each man ruins the other’s lives, and we couldn’t care less.
Trust me when I tell you that after the opening scene where Dave’s baby shoots projectile poop straight into his mouth not once but twice, the film only goes downhill from there. The story has no point, the characters change from scene to scene from hating the switch to loving it and the narrative has the momentum of a clogged sewer line. Only the least discriminating viewer could laugh at the admittedly outrageous and sometimes sickly funny sight gags without feeling supremely guilty and dirty afterwards.
The Change-Up even looks cheap and low budget. Supporting characters like Arkin’s newest wife look like they were plucked from a mall contest, and the Atlanta setting feels like the winner in “the cheapest filming location” sweepstakes (watch out, Albuquerque!). I hope that Bateman and Reynolds can change up their agents and get better parts in better movies.
Reel Thoughts Rating: F
UPDATE: The Change-Up is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom Amazon.com.
Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.