The Change-Up

I’m a huge hip hop fan. The once great rapper Nas once said, “No idea’s original, there’s nothing new under the sun.”  He wasn’t the first to express that sentiment, but it’s one with which I agree.  That’s what I thought of when I saw the trailer for The Change-Up, the latest in a long line of “switcheroo” comedies.  Oh, you know the formula.  There was a spate of such movies in the 80s with offerings like Vice Versa and 18 Again!  We’ve even seen this formula just couple of years ago with 17 Again, starring Zac Efron.  It’s hard to come up with something completely original, that’s why when I see innovative movies like Inception, I lose my mind.  But I digress.  Lots not talk about what The Change-Up isn’t; let’s talk about what it is.

Best buddies Mitch (Ryan Reynolds, Green Lantern) and Dave (Justin Bateman, Horrible Bosses) couldn’t be more different.  Mitch is a single Ladies’ Man with very few responsibilities.  He’s an on again/off again actor whose days consist largely of jerking off and smoking weed.  That might be fun for a 20 year old, but a grown adult male should have higher aspirations.  In contrast, Dave is a settled family man.  He’s married with three children and is completely devoted and responsible.  While hanging out one drunken night, they each lament their lifestyles.  Dave didn’t goof on his 20s like Mitch.  He was working his way through school and stepping up to the plate after having his first child.  He envies Mitch’s swinging single lifestyle and the endless parade of women.  Mitch is content with his life, but he admits that it would be nice to come home and be surrounded by people who genuinely care about you.  While relieving themselves in a fountain, they verbalize their wishes.  In a moment of movie magic, their lives are swapped.

When Dave awakes the next morning, it is Mitch that dwells within him.  Similarly, Dave’s spirit inhabits Mitch’s body.  With an important acting audition approaching for Mitch, and a big deal looming at the firm for Dave, the switch couldn’t have happened at a worse time.  Luckily Mitch makes it through the meeting and Dave survives the audition.  Swapping lives is full of potential pitfalls for each guy, from a tempting young associate at the firm for Dave to indiscriminate sexual encounters for Mitch.  Of course things aren’t all bad.  Mitch infuses Dave’s life with a carefree attitude, and Dave brings a degree of levity to Mitch’s haphazard lifestyle.  The problem is that Dave has to make sure his marriage is in a better place than he left it.  The trappings of success have taken the love and passion out of their relationship, and he’ll have to figure out how to get it back before it’s too late.

The Change-Up is what it is.  What is original? Hell no. Was it funny? Yes, for the most part it was.  It had the appropriate balance of humor and heart to make for a passable day at the movies.  The lead actors are likeable and charismatic and there were enough laughs to keep you satisfied.  I’m sure married men can relate to the partial surrender that comes along with marriage and kids, and what good is suffering if you can’t play it for laughs?  I heard plenty of chuckles in the theater.  You may have to temper your expectations a bit, but I thought The Change-Up was pretty funny and worth checking out.

This article first appeared at www.poptimal.com and was reprinted with permission.

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