The Change-Up, (15)

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The Independent Culture

For a male take on the work-life balance, there's The Change-Up, a traditional body-swap comedy except with far more swearing and nudity. Jason Bateman plays a corporate lawyer with a wife (Leslie Mann) and three children, while Ryan Reynolds is an unemployed actor who spends his days getting stoned and his nights getting any woman he can. After these old friends pee in the same magical fountain – it's that kind of film – they switch identities and each gets a taste of the life he might have had.

It's a lewd, crude, male wish-fulfilment fantasy, as you'd expect from the writers of The Hangover and the director of Wedding Crashers. But it provides just enough chuckles to count as a guilty pleasure, mainly due to Bateman and Reynolds's motormouthed confidence. It also makes a few piquant comments about parenthood to balance out the frat-boy high jinks. For Jason-in-Ryan's-body, the height of bachelor freedom isn't a wild night on the town but an uninterrupted sit on the toilet.

On the other hand, a film with such a big metaphysical conceit probably shouldn't ramble around as aimlessly as The Change-Up does. Neither of the men seems too bothered about getting his old life back or taking advantage of his new one, so the stakes are far lower than they should be. Everything's a bit too easy. I don't believe for a nano-second that anyone as crass as Ryan in Jason's body could care for baby twins or bluff his way through a meeting about billion-dollar mergers, and I don't believe that Jason in Ryan's body would stand back and let his moronic pal put his offspring and career at risk. Body-swap comedies may not be noted for their documentary realism, but a smidgen of internal logic wouldn't have gone amiss.



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