21 September 2011


This is even creepier than it looks once you have the context of having seen the film. But don't see the film.
The other big comedy release of the week is 30 Minutes Or Less, which I've covered over at Movie Reviews. It came in at number 10 in the UK box office chart this week, which is OK, because I think it's going to have a better life on DVD anyway. The fact that I'm covering The Change-Up on here and not that does not signal that 30 Minutes Or Less is less worthy of your time.

In fact, if I weren't super-conditioned for shitty movies by now, 30 Minutes Or Less is how long into The Change-Up I would have lasted before walking the fuck out. This is the Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds body-swap comedy you've been seeing on bus stops around the country. Bateman is Dave, family man and hardworking lawyer, and Reynolds is Mitch, a layabout manchild who's still inordinately privileged. And then, courtesy of a toilet trip in a magic fountain, it's vice versa.

Let's not pretend this is anything other than predictable. Even if the body-swap scenario hadn't already been done to death, the idea is for a slacker to learn something from being a hard-working and responsible adult, and for the adult to miss his obligations when all responsibility is divested of him. From the director of Wedding Crashers and the writers of The Hangover, there are even less surprises to be had. Going in to see this one, I was at least looking forward to seeing the leads do something a bit different. I'm a fan of both Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds.

If anything, I was looking forward to seeing Jason Bateman break type. With the exception of his essaying Marc Warren's role in State of Play, his big screen roles have all been much the same as one another. There's some appeal in the idea of Bateman playing more of an arsehole, except for when you see just how much of an arsehole Reynolds' character really is. As popular as Reynolds is, studios must hate the guy, cos they keep putting him in shitty movies. He was phenomenal in Buried, and really deserves better than the likes of X-Men Origins- Wolverine or, more prominently, Green Lantern.

That these two would be friends is baffling, not only because of their different social standing and work habits, but because it's so one-sided. Mitch is coming onto Dave's wife Jamie, actually played pretty well by Leslie Mann, even before they switch bodies. And a big comic setpiece, once the swap takes place, involves Mitch essentially planning to rape Jamie, seeing as how she doesn't know it's not her husband. Mann had a similar role as a clueless love interest in 17 Again, and believe me, this piece of shit is making me appreciate that film a whole lot more.

Even aside from any of the utterly reprehensible characters and their actions, what will first strike you about The Change-Up is that it's not funny. The dialogue aims for the snappy, quickfire quotability of the first Hangover movie, but gag after gag just goes down like a lead balloon. Swearing can occasionally be funny, but when it's not, it breaks up delivery and takes down whole gags with it. In the cinema where I saw the movie, the crowd were as silent as if they were watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Actually, no, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy genuinely had more laughs, by the virtue of having one or two moments of levity.

But this film's idea of funny? Infant endangerment! In the very first shot of the film, we get to see a CGI rendering of a baby's nether regions, for the purpose of it shitting in Jason Bateman's mouth. Pretty apt for the whole film, that opening, as it also implies that it's alright to show that, seeing as how they didn't use a real baby. This allows for utterly awful scenes where one of Dave's young baby twins repeatedly bashes his head against the cot with bone-crunching force, sticks his hand in a blender, and puts his tongue in an electrical socket. It's not a real baby, but whatever those scenes are, they're not funny.

The flagrant use of CGI doesn't stop there. One of those nice little points on which a studio can sell a movie is by promising a hot young actress will take her top off. In this case, Olivia Wilde and Leslie Mann both show their breasts. Except that they don't. Their breasts are digitally nuded up, for lack of a better term for this weird process. Wilde has even gone nude before (don't all rush off to look that up at once), so it speaks volumes for a script that isn't worth the effort of undressing. Just imagine the poor, hard-working animators that had to sit there animating nipples from the uncanny valley, not to mention twin babies' genitals, for The Change-Up, of all fucking things.

But hey- immature, stupid, misogynistic shit has finally entered the digital age, with The Change-Up. To call it the Avatar of crass, gross-out, unfunny crap might be somewhere on the way to describing what a hateful catastrophe of a film it truly is. It would also describe how long it feels, actually. You know, it takes real effort to make a likeable cast into characters as dislikeable as these. With the very minor exception of Leslie Mann, whose reliably sympathetic performance is wasted in the grand scheme of things anyway, everybody involved should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

The Change-Up is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen The Change-Up, why not share your comments below? Final word on 30 Minutes Or Less; it's not perfect, but Christ- it felt funnier than Airplane, after sitting through this shite.

I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.

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