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Also opening: 'The Change-Up' and 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'

Is it possible that the summer movie slate has been so run-of-the-thrill that supernatural body swapping can be considered a fresh idea? The makers of The Change-Up (R) apparently think so, so here we go again.

Getting all Freaky Friday this time are Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, playing polar opposite best friends whose public urination in a magical fountain causes them to exchange personalities. That's right: no magic amulets or wishes upon a star, just peeing in a fountain. Hold my sides while I guffaw, please.

Mitch (Reynolds) is a ladies' man with so many notches on his bed posts that even termites aren't interested. Dave (Bateman) is the happily married man Mitch pledges to never be. Neither envies the other's lifestyle, so you have to wonder why they hang out — literally — together. Before you can say Vice Versa they're living the other's life, pinning diapers or dropping drawers with all the hilarity that mortification offers.

The Change-Up does promise to be the dirtiest body swap comedy ever, with red band trailers eliminating any pretense of good taste. The movie is directed by David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) and written by the guys from The Hangover movies, if that gives you a clue. We can expect Mitch and Dave to become better people by walking in each others' shoes for a while, and end credit bloopers since that's what desperate movies do.

The Change-Up wasn't screened in time for Weekend. A review will be published at and Etc, Page 2B.

Steve Persall, Times film critic

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13) should begin soon after Escape from the Planet of the Apes ended 40 years ago. That's when kindly carny Ricardo Montalban took charge of baby Milo, after the chimp's parents Zira and Cornelius were killed because they talked too much. But you can't expect this franchise to play fair, after so many millennium-skipping movies, TV shows and Tim Burton's remake of the original.

RotPotA, as the Comic-Con crowd calls the new version, stars James Franco (hasn't every movie this year?) as a present-day scientist using apes in lab research for an Alzheimer's cure. One of the simians is named Caesar but he'll always be Milo to us. The test drugs are accelerating Caesar's intelligence growth, leading to a jailbreak and primate revolt in the streets of San Francisco.

The man behind the monkey is Andy Serkis, whose motion capture emoting as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and later King Kong is historic stuff. The technology has improved, with body and face sensors picking up subtler movements to digitize. Nobody knows how to speak body language better than Serkis. He's being touted to earn the first Oscar nomination for an actor who doesn't physically appear on screen, which the academy probably should get used to.

It occurs to me that, taken as a whole, the Planet of the Apes franchise is about more than just simians evolving. Forty-three years after the original, we've gone from Charlton Heston to James Franco. That, friends, is the evolution of man.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes wasn't screened in time for Weekend. A review will be published at and Etc, Page 2B.

Steve Persall, Times film critic

Also opening: 'The Change-Up' and 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' 08/03/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 11:27am]
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