The Change-Up

Posted on August 4, 2011 at 6:45 pm

The movie has barely begun and Dave (Jason Bateman) already has projectile baby poop all over his face and in his mouth.  There is so much excretory material in this film that doctors specializing in intestinal and urinary issues could probably get some continuing education credits for watching it.

It’s yet another body-switching movie, “Freaky Friday” with baby poop and (very) grown-up female nudity.  It’s as if they took Goofus and Gallant from the pages of Highlights Magazine and put them in a screenplay that channels Judd Apatow (providing the raunch, the perpetually juvenile male, the fear of women, and the warm-hearted valentine to Leslie Mann) and Adam Sandler (puerile comedy, the perpetually juvenile male, the dislike of women, and the odd combination of treacly sentiment and brutal slapstick).  The screenwriters of “The Hangover” and the director of “The Wedding Crashers” bring some high spirits and good-natured affection for their characters.

Dave is Gallant, a good husband, a good father, and a good lawyer, who loves his family but feels that he never has a moment for himself, between working on a big deal that will decide whether he makes partner, giving the twins their three a.m. bottles, and making it to “dialog night” with his wife.  Dave’s  lifelong friend is Goofus, I mean Mitch (Ryan Reynolds), whose primary occupations are smoking pot, and sleeping with as many girls as possible.  His only successful achievement is disappointing his father (Alan Arkin).  At that, he excels.

The two of them go out to watch a game at a sports bar.  On the way home, they stop to pee in a fountain, and somehow that switches their souls.  The next morning, Mitch wakes up in Dave’s bed, in Dave’s body, and Dave wakes up in Mitch’s bachelor apartment and rockin’ Sexiest Man Alive/looks-great-in-the-Green-Lantern-super-suit bod.

In a plot twist from body-switching movie “Big,” the magical fountain has been moved, and it will take a while for the local bureaucracy to track it down so they can pee themselves back to normal.  And that gives Dave and Mitch a chance to live each other’s lives, alternating fantasy and excruciating humiliation, often simultaneously.

Dave takes Mitch’s body to what he says is his big opportunity as an actor.  It turns out to be a “lorno” — light porno, which requires the straight-laced family man who got a vicarious thrill from his friend’s description of his highly varied sex life to get some non-vicarious misery.  Meanwhile, Mitch as Dave manages to say the wrong thing in a crucial meeting and derail the big deal that would have made Dave a partner in his firm and at the three am feeding in the kitchen he puts the twins down next to the knives and electric sockets.

It is more fun to watch the two guys ease into each other’s lives.  Dave rediscovers the pleasures of having time for himself.  And Mitch for the first time discovers what it is to see something through.  (And to see the kind of highly personal and private moments that only married couples allow each other to see.)

There’s not a lot of acting here; this is not “Face-Off,” where Nicolas Cage and John Travolta made a preposterous idea work with cleverly layered performances.  Reynolds never masters Bateman’s dry delivery and Bateman’s attempt to incorporate Mitch’s wink looks more like a nervous tic.  And the very talented Leslie Mann is underused in yet another disappointed wife role, especially when her “husband” forgets the very important “dialog night” and says he does not find her attractive.  (She also does a nude scene that makes it hard to imagine anyone would forget her or find her anything but extremely attractive.)  Olivia Wilde has some fun as a lawyer who has elements of both Dave and Mitch, giving warmth and a little vulnerability to a character who would otherwise just be a superficial fantasy figure.

The film’s strength is less its outrageousness than its unpretentiousness.  This film has no ambition beyond making the audience laugh and it is good-natured enough to keep us on its side.


Parents should know that this film has extremely explicit and vulgar sexual humor, references, and situations, nudity, potty humor, drinking, and marijuana.  Characters use strong and offensive language.
Family discussion: Who would you switch bodies with if you could?  How is this similar to other body-switching comedies you’ve seen?

If you like this, try: “Family Man,” “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” and “Knocked Up”

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26 Replies to “The Change-Up”

  1. I think I’d rather re-watch Face/Off on DVD than sit through this alleged “comedy.” Can we actually get some comedies that don’t revolve around excrement, vomit, & flatulence?

    After reading Roger Ebert’s scathing review of this film–

    —it seems we have yet another male centric “comedy” that is degrading to women.

    I won’t contribute to Hollywood’s misogyny.

  2. Does this movie have Male genitals in it? I am quite sick of going to movies with my girlfriend and having to see that. Hall pass was quite enough for me.

    1. From Roger Ebert’s review: “The Change-Up” is one of the dirtiest-minded mainstream releases in history. It has a low opinion of men, a lower opinion of women, and the lowest opinion of the intelligence of its audience. It is obscene, foulmouthed, scatological, creepy and perverted.”

  3. Right, ’cause graphic female nudity in these movies is fine (lol).

    Anyway, I do not go to R-rated comedies anymore because of all the throwup, poops, and farts that get thrown in these types of movies. Hollywood has an infantile obsession with bodily fluids and functions. There is no such thing as wit anymore.

  4. I saw this last night and was surprised I liked it.

    I read a lot of (mostly bad)reviews and was prepared to be offended by child endangerment, extreme bowel humor, etc. most of which I found off base.

    Poop humor:
    I now think, ironically, that some of the reviewers are the ones who need to mature with regard to body functions – not the writers. The opening scene with projectile poop was pretty gross, but was also silly and mildly comical. If you have ever changed a diaper, I think you can handle it – the majority of the critics couldn’t. The intestinal problem Jamie has later lasts only 1-2 seconds and had a point. To me it was a somewhat clever comic way to contrast real married life with Mitch’s idealized version. I’m laughing at his immaturity, not the sounds from the bathroom.

    Child Endangerment:
    I only bring this up because some real reviewers complained. Many parents’ greatest fears are explored in the extreme here for comedy. To me, it works. I’m never going to laugh when an unattended baby finds sharp knives, but when that baby starts to throw the knives expertly at Mitch you get a much needed break from the uncomfortableness. You start to feel that the babies will be fine, but the one who left them unattended, Mitch, may be met with some sort of justice. No complaints there.

    I’m also hearing things like ‘Nobody cusses that much in real life.’ I’m always for less cursing in movies, but it didn’t seem as bad to me as the Hangover movies, and it was definitely a lot less than in Superbad.

    On rotten tomatoes, there is a full 40% difference between critic’s and audience’s approval. That seems really odd to me.

  5. This is truly disappointing that this movie is being promoted on here with a B- and for “mature high schoolers”. I have a 21 year old friend who walked out of the theatre during this movie because of the overly excessive use of the f word and other very graphic, disgusting detailed things. If we cannot stand up for what is right and our faith and morality on “beliefnet”, this site is being promoted entirely incorrectly. If this is really a Christian-based movie review for families, this would have been given an F and not recommended for anyone.

    1. Thanks, Elman and June! Your two comments, one in favor of the movie and one against, will be very helpful to people who want to decide whether this movie is right for them. Elman, I’m glad you enjoyed it! As you can see on Rotten Tomatoes, I gave the movie one of its higher ratings. It is not intended to be anything other than a silly comedy and it would be a mistake to try to take it too seriously. June, the grade is not for family-appropriateness. It is my view on how well the movie meets the expectations of its intended audience. The information I provide about parental concerns like language, sex, and violence is there to make it clear who that intended audience is. If a family wants to avoid movies with raunchy comedy and bad language, they will find the information there to help them do so. If your 21-year-old friend had checked my review, he or she would not have made the wrong choice in buying a ticket. But if you are looking for mindless condemnation of every film that has those elements, you will not find it here. I would be sorry to have a faith that could be so easily shaken.

      And please note that Beliefnet says, “Our mission is to help people like you find, and walk, a spiritual path that will bring comfort, hope, clarity, strength, and happiness.” We respect all faith traditions and those who are seeking. Sometimes wisdom comes from unexpected sources.

  6. Are you kidding me? We have ridiculous caricatures of horny pregnant women, jerking off, getting your labia tattooed on a first date, “anal thumbing” and you think this is fine for a ninth grader?

    Clearly, movie mom is either way too worried about being friends with her kids, or is an industry shill.

    This movie was so over the top gross, it wasted a perfectly talented cast.

    A ridiculous review, lady. When your kids wind up pregnant or drug-addicted, you can look in the mirror to know why.

    1. Jean, nowhere does it say that I recommend this movie for a 9th grader. “Mature High Schooler” means 17 and up. I also made it very clear from the first sentence of the review through the parental advisory notes what the content of the film was, including the gross and offensive material.

  7. Laughing now – this is a joke, right? “Questions for family time” “who would you change bodies with?”

    How about, “who would you have anal sex with on a first date?”

    “How do you feel about needles in your labia?”

    Seriously. The whole thing is a spoof, right? Including the ridiculous photo of the supposed movie mom?

  8. Any parent who lets their child see this movie is a moron (as did the brainless single mom who brought her six year old to the theater while I was watching it). Furthermore, Movie Mom is an idiot for not further ranting on the inappropriateness of this film. The idea that there could be a family discussion about body switching is just plain ludicrous. There should be a law against allowing derelict parents taking their prepubescent chidren into R rated movies like the Change Up.

    1. Outraged, my review makes clear the content in the film and that I in no way recommend it for children or young teenagers. I agree that parents should not be permitted to bring their children to R-rated films like this one. But families include older teenagers and young adults and they have discussions, too. I include suggested discussion questions for every movie I review, even dumb comedies. Sometimes the most thoughtful conversations can be inspired by stupid or offensive material.

  9. infant nudity — I was shock and not happy to see this — I see this as a form of Child Pornography — they could have edit that part out

    1. Brian, I’m going to disagree with you on that one. There is a lot that is vile in the movie but the infant nudity is perfectly innocent.

  10. Thank you Allison –
    Roger Ebert’s review was right on target.

    Good to see he has not become desensitized to the morally bankrupt, new-age, ZERO values agenda that hollywood is continuously hoisting upon the MAJORITY of Americans who are of Christian faith.

    …and I do appreciate Roger’s Ebert’s parting words on this piece of trash:

    “The film, in fact, seems to go out of its way to be vulgar and offensive, as if “adult” audiences crave such an assault. Anyone who enjoys this film cannot fairly be considered an adult. Pity about the R rating. It will keep out those callow enough to enjoy it.”

    And Brian K:

    You SHOULD have been shocked and disturbed by infants blatantly being exposed & exploited on a giant movie screen…that is actually a very normal reaction.

    Are you aware that when movies were still new to the general public, sometimes people would be so terrified, to the point of fainting, when a murder or monster appeared on the screen?

    Their minds were INNOCENT and normal back then. It is NOT normal to be able to sit through violence, gore, hatred of women (or men), or all the other un-speakables and just laugh it off…pretending to feel nothing.

    Our society actually has created and promotes a “torture-porn” genre???!!!

    How has this come to be?

    Unfortunately, the shills who are pumping out and promoting these movies want to keep the masses nice and numb….Continually accepting more and more of this garbage, on every level…until we’ll sit through any kind of horror imaginable.

    Have you ever wondered WHY that is?

    1. Thanks, Chloe. The studios will make whatever film they think will sell the most tickets. And gory and disturbing stories existed long before movies — look at myths, Bible stories, Shakespeare, opera. When you are wondering WHY, keep that in mind.

  11. “And gory and disturbing stories existed long before movies — look at myths, Bible stories, Shakespeare, opera.”

    Point well taken – yup, society is sick.

    Although, I can’t imagine that the human psyche is as damaged, influenced or disturbed by stories or amateurish performances than it is by larger than life moving images, blaring surround-sound, and special effects which can create visual horrors that actually do not exist in real life.

    Of course, there were public hangings and gladiator battles that drew quite the crowds back then also.

    It’s so sad that these barbaric activities still hold the masses in awe and complete desensitization…all the more accepted since it’s *just a movie*

    1. Chloe, if something is as universal and literally visceral an element of the human condition throughout all history and all cultures as this you can’t blame society. Society is just the plural of people in this context and the issue is so widespread it has to be considered “normal.” We need to understand what it is inside us that is drawn to these stories as a way to resolve our inner conflicts. Yes, we no longer have public hangings and lynching and gladiators, but we have a very profitable sports industry that ruins the real-life health of football players and boxers and movies like “Saw” sell millions of dollars of tickets.

  12. Hi Nell ~ Yes, of course I agree that society, humanity, etc. contributes to and is responsible for their endless demands of debauchery and violence in movies.

    Also, you’ve stated the point I was trying to make very well — Not a lot has changed from times that were considered barbaric, just packaged differently.

    Although, however widespread, I’d never refer to this as *normal*

    Terrible diseases are widespread, but are they normal?

    I feel that the torture-porn genre is created by diseased minds, catering to other desensitized, disordered, or possibly masochistic minds.

    How can swallowing the massive doses of sadism in these movies (and thinking nothing of it) be considered harmless entertainment?

    I read a post on another site, referring to this genre of movies and could not have said it better:

    “What we are engaging in here is a sort reciprocal, guiltless brutality-by-proxy. The filmmaker contends that it is not he who is “responsible” for the gore, anguish, and depravity depicted – after all, it is testament to the appetite of the viewing public that a film is in distribution at all, and this art is merely reflecting and feeding the cultured palate of the filmgoer.

    From the filmgoer’s perspective, it is not he who is “responsible” – he didn’t make the movie, he’s not dictating content, he just paid for a ticket, and certainly isn’t consciously or deliberately voting for more of the same with his $10 worth of encouragement.

    Both parties thereby conveniently evade the crosshairs of self-analysis, smugly confident that any credit or blame resides with the other.”

    Lastly, the movie “The Change Up” certainly is not one of the movies is I’m referring to…I just got off the subject, to make a point.

    Actually, compared to what many people are seeing, if “The Change Up” was the worst of it, we’d be much better off.

    I appreciate your response to me and I hope you’ve had a beautiful Christmas!

  13. This movie was unbelievable, it was a mixture of nude infants and porn as well as nude adults. I cant believe this film was permitted. I new that the film was off from the very first scene, the nude infant. There is no wonder why infants get sexually assaulted. Why do they show naked women, to get men off, why someone would include nude infants in this movie is no wonder to me. This film promotes child porn.

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