Gimmicky body-switch comedies like “Freaky Friday,” “All of Me” and “Big,” have become a genre unto themselves. This time, the unwitting anatomy swappers are immature, idiotic, irresponsible bachelor Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) and uptight, wealthy, workaholic lawyer Dave (Jason Bateman). Dave and his wife (Leslie Mann) are the parents of three youngsters, including a set of infant twins. Living in Atlanta and improbable buddies since childhood, their lives have obviously gone in diametrically different directions.
Following a drunken spree and simultaneously muttering “I wish I had your life,” Mitch and Dave pee in a public fountain that’s dominated by a stone statue of Metis, the cunning Greek goddess of counsel, advice, and planning. Suddenly, there’s a lightning bolt and power failure and – presto! – they awaken inhabiting each other’s bodies, examining their ‘new’ genitalia. Predictably, as they continue to explore their radically different lifestyles, each discovers that what he envied about his friend’s existence isn’t really as terrific as he’d imagined. Not surprisingly, when – finally – they regain their original personas, they’re not only relieved but also grateful for what they have.
R-rated screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore did far better with “The Hangover,” as director David Dobkin did with “The Wedding Crashers.” I doubt that any of them will feature this contrived, stale comedy prominently on their resumes, particularly if anyone ever recalls the regrettable opening scene in which Dave gets hit in the mouth by a kid squirting a diaper poop projectile.
Ryan Reynolds (“The Green Lantern”) and Jason Bateman (“Horrible Bosses”) worked together previously in “Smokin Aces” (2006) and they perform creditably in this instance, playing against type. Comedienne Leslie Mann (a.k.a. Mrs. Judd Apatow) repeats the same long-suffering wife role she played in “Knocked Up” and “Funny People.” Unfortunately, Alan Arkin’s talent is totally wasted as Mitch’s estranged father. But beautiful Olivia Wilde (“Cowboys & Aliens”) scores as Dave’s sexy legal assistant.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Change-Up” is a crass, crude, vulgar 4. It’s a raunchy repeat of what’s been done – far better – before.