by HELEN GEIB
When critics say a movie is review-proof, they mean it will do well at the box office no matter how bad the reviews are. I have my own personal definition of review-proof that operates independently of the standard definition: movies I don’t have anything particular to say about. The current flavor of mainstream Hollywood comedy neatly fits both definitions.
In deference to my lack of anything particular to say about The Change-Up, in place of a normal review I’ve put together a short “mainstream Hollywood comedy” dialogue with a construct of a moviegoer who likes this sort of thing a lot more than I do. Swap out the actors’ names and a few plot-specific details for re-use next time.
What’s it about?
High achieving lawyer/married with kids Dave is odd couple childhood friends with unemployed actor/swinger Mitch. A fit of mutual lifestyle envy in front of an otherworldly statue leads to a body-switching scenario. Mitch, who had previously switched bodies with a 12 year old, learns about the value of hard work, or something like that, while Dave learns that it’s good to take a day off once in a while.
Who’s in it?
Jason Bateman is Dave, Ryan Reynolds is Mitch, Leslie Mann is Dave’s wife, Olivia Wilde is Mitch’s new sex partne- er, love interest, and Alan Arkin is wasted in a tiny role as Mitch’s dad.
Let’s cut to the chase. Should I see it?
What kind of answer is that?
Would you prefer “it depends”?
All right, enough with the comedy routine.
No, really, I’m serious. You should see it if you enjoy movies with a lot of…
1) bodily function jokes;
2) crude sexual humor;
3) inappropriate workplace and in-front-of-the-children profanity;
4) gratuitous female nudity; and
5) male bonding through locker-room talk
…and seasoned with a dash of unearned sentimental stuff about family and friendship.
How old are you anyway? You sound like my grandmother.
Next you’ll tell me I can’t take a joke.
Now don’t get all huffy, I didn’t mean anything by it. I’m just saying, a lot of people have told me this is a really funny movie with a good message. Are you really trying to say there’s nothing good about it?
Not at all. There are a few good laughs, for one. For another, it is a good message, even if it isn’t convincingly delivered. And most of all, Bateman and Reynolds are talented comic actors able to pull off playing dual roles: “me” and “him”. Basically there’s just enough good to make it regrettable that so very much isn’t.
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