You can’t start a movie with Jason Bateman taking a projectile stream of baby diarrhea in the mouth and expect audiences to fill in the emotional mold forming later. Sure, if you’re a body switching movie, replete with all of the modern irritations the genre brings with it, you can play it for laughs. Expecting Bateman and co-star Ryan Reynolds to “find themselves” by living in each others bodies by the end? No. Just no.
Maybe there’s some deep down turmoil brewing over the computer generated nudity. You don’t strip Olivia Wilde and replace her with something artificial, and seriously, who is the person doing the animation? Do they have meetings with her and ask if they’re the right size? Style? Form? How does that work?
Moving away from tangents for a moment (although it shouldn’t trivialize these critical issues), Change-Up can be uproarious when it wants to be, or when it’s focused enough. When it’s not driving itself into a contrived meeting to settle daddy issues and it’s focused on an insecure Bateman -in Reynolds body of course- trying to have sex with a pregnant woman, it scores. That is, after all, exactly what this one has front-loaded its comedy with.
Few movies appreciate the freedom of the MPAA’s R-rating better than this one, so utterly repulsive and offensive it can’t lose anyone except the weak stomached or morally staunch. Change-Up even salvages itself from the typical, the shock of waking up in another body, the infuriating spectacle of trying to convince someone they’re actually someone else, and sure, the awkward phases where they see each other from the other side.
Change-Up deftly weaves between those pillars, usually splitting between something serious and someone doing something sexual. At least, that’s the first half formula before this one splatters itself into the dramatic puddle it drowns in.
It’s like the film enters the romantic comedy, decidedly more creepy when it’s two straight guys, finding reasons for disagreements (ugly ones too) and Leslie Mann crying sessions. How many people enter a movie broadcast as a free flowing R-rated comedy just to become emotionally vulnerable? Pieced out into elements, there’s a rare spark and chemistry usually only visible with the screen’s comedic greats. Fitted together, it’s hard to continue caring for the out of body (or into body?) plight.
Backed with a pleasing, mostly resolved grain structure, this Universal comedy comes rolling out cleanly in its HD debut, if all together typical. Director David Dobkin pushes for a colorful, saturated push, dominating the look with orange flesh tones that leap off the screen. Never mind that few people are this tan, especially an overworked lawyer. He must get out more than the movie suggests.
Black levels help with a firm focus on maintaining shadow detail, crush pleasingly removed from its murky grasp. Even during those dramatic excursions, Change-Up never dims itself for effect, keeping a bright contrast at work, layering on the depth.
Fine detail isn’t squandered, just on the inconsistent side. Close-ups come and go in terms of their fidelity, background elements striking. A few trips to the grocery store sting with how many items there are refined. It’s a looker. Other scenes drop the ball a bit, a suit worn by Alan Arkin at 1:05:00 flickering and shimmering with the worst of them. It’s a forced sequence made worse by the visual distraction.
Some heavy smoothing on Olivia Wilde is equally forceful, mercifully left miles away from the other actors. A handful of exteriors impress and pop, natural in their sharpness and vibrancy. Much of the movie carries those qualities were it not for the tweaked color which adds a little more life than is needed, if delivering something to look at for the HD market comedy wise.
Continuing its typical technical presence, this DTS-HD effort shines where it should, say a bar early on or at a Marlins game near the close of the second act. Ambiance is appropriately leveled, the live stadium crowd a focused “being there” piece. A couple lines come across as clearly dubbed over with the clarity of uncompressed audio, the rest as natural and as smooth as they can be.
The stunner comes as the body switch occurs, the city dropping all power, this leading to a monumental jolt of bass that rocks the sub, the room its in, and the chest of all viewers. It’s a shock to the system for its unexpectedness and awesome for it raw power. It’s almost a shame it only happens twice. There’s nothing else for the sub to do otherwise.
A deleted scene brings the extras menu to life, a short extension that was cut for clear reasons. The gag reel that follows has way more to offer in terms of content. Time for a Change is a seven minute studio making-of that is as dry as they come. Family Matter dives into full detail on how the projectile poo was handled in the opening scene. You can choose to watch this one with a commentary from director David Dobkin, and for some reason, the disc is D-Box compatible. BD-Live access is here too, and surprise, they still haven’t found anything to do with it yet.