The Change-Up Movie Review: Bittersweet Buddy Outing High on Poop Meter

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While Julianne Moore currently whines her way through midlife crisis marriage boredom blues in Crazy, Stupid Love, we get the male matrimonial makeover version with Justin Bateman’s disgruntled spouse in The Change-Up. Which doesn’t mean there’s much more in the way of linking these two romantic comedy summer releases, as the former mines humor from emotional entanglements, and the latter perfects plot points laced with gobs of grossout.

Jason Bateman is Dave in The Change-Up, a suburban dad and father of three, overwhelmed at the moment juggling his career at a law firm by day, with tending to his perpetually pooping newborn twins throughout the night. Which understandably leads to a case of extreme envy when observing the carefree, babe-abundant lifestyle of his arrested development best buddy since childhood, lifelong aspiring actor Mitch (Ryan Reynolds).

And while Mitch may in turn have a yearning now and then to sample his friend’s cozy family lifestyle and home cooked meals, Dave is clearly the one feeling most deprived. Specifically, as a long married workaholic who bypassed all the drugs and ‘sex with strange new women.’ But everything changes when one evening after heavy drinking and exchanging their respective gripes, the pair stops to pee in a fountain in the town square, presided over by a possibly female trickster stone statue. Who apparently grants them their only half-serious spoken desires, to lead each others’ lives.

And though this sort of body exchange, brain intact freakout has been done many times on screen in the past, director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) has quite a few new and different surprises in store. Which ends up having more than a little to do with Dave’s induction into performing some unmentionable duties as a not so legit actor after all. Along with Olivia Wilde’s legal assistant in seductive pursuit of Dave’s stud sidekick. Who at the moment, just happens to be a not exactly disinterested Dave.

And while we’re on the subject of seduction, let’s just say that The Change-Up tries much too hard to be an audience-pleaser, when the manic humor minus the multiple grossout bodily emission detours would have sufficed quite well on its own. Which eventually feels as a film more derivative than not, of its narrative origins located somewhere in the perversely revisited realm of possibly Twain’s ‘Prince And The Pooper.’

Universal Pictures

Rated R

2 1/2 stars

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.