Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman) and Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds) have been friends since third grade. Dave is the go-getter. He worked four jobs to get through law school, even graduating early. He’s about to become a partner at his law firm. If the merger he is finalizing goes through. He’s living the family life with his wife, Jamie (Leslie Mann), his elementary school age daughter, and infant twins.
Mitch, however, is basically the polar opposite. He smokes pot all day. Every day. He dropped out of school to become an actor. Unsuccessfully. He’s an embarrassment to his father. And everyone thinks he is a quitter. And he is constantly hooking up with woman after woman.
During a boys’ night out, they are discussing how they envy the other’s life. Dave wants the care free lifestyle. Mitch wants the stability of a responsible family life. As the drunk friends stumble out of the bar, the relieve themselves in a fountain while simultaneously expressing their wish to switch lives.
You can guess what happens. Mitch (now Dave) wakes up and has to adjust to being a father, husband, and employed. Dave (now Mitch) wakes up to…nothing. No real responsibilities (save for a sketchy acting job Mitch had just landed). They must live each other’s life until they can find the fountain to switch back.
This story has been done a million times, Freaky Friday being probably the most memorable. (And even that had its own same-named remake.) It’s a “the grass is always greener” story. Or “I’ll learn from your character how to be a better me. And you’ll learn from my character how to be a better you.”
Yes, it’s predictable. You know what’s going to happen in the end. Yes, it has its sappy, almost cheesy moments. It’s part of this storyline. A necessary evil, if you will.
What makes The Change-Up worth watching is the journey. (I can cheese it up, too.) I love Jason Bateman. He’s hysterical. He ups the level of everything he touches. Ryan Reynolds does a fair job, too. (Aside from the look they give him for the movie. At one point, the comment is made that he just needs to grow a mustache to look like a pedophile. With the way they do his hair, and his whole look, that’s pretty much spot on. And sorry ladies. He keeps his shirt on for the majority of the movie.)
This is not your father’s Freaky Friday. You don’t want to take the kids to this one. It’s raunchy humor. Which I enjoy. (If that’s not your style, steer clear of this one.) Some of the scenes, and just the concepts they come up with are so far out there. There are a lot of “did they really just go there?” moments. A lot. And they’re hilarious. (The opening diaper change scene, for example.) You almost laugh just because you’re uncomfortable. (I’ll never look at Angry Birds the same.)
The Change-Up shows you that it is possible to take an old, tired storyline and make it watchable. Even in its slowest moments, I’d take it over Lindsay Lohan any day.