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Movie review: 'The Change-Up' smells worse than a disposable diaper

Jason Bateman, background, and Ryan Reynolds trade lives in the body-switch comedy The Change-Up.

Universal Pictures

Jason Bateman, background, and Ryan Reynolds trade lives in the body-switch comedy The Change-Up.

It's pathetic the way Universal Pictures is shoving Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman through a dog-and-pony show promoting The Change-Up, a movie smelling like the rear ends of both those species.

The Change-Up is the Human Centipede of gag-me comedies, in which a doting father gets a Hershey squirt in his mouth from an infant in the first scene, the midsection is rife with groin-centric "jokes," sexism, ageism, racism and child abuse, then the schmaltzy finale suggests a sequel. It's a carpet bombing of bad taste, getting less funny with each passing moment, or gas. The mothers of everyone involved must be so proud.

Reynolds and Bateman don't mind. They have paychecks banked and certainly better movies to sell if this one tanks, which it won't since society is crumbling. Check out their desperately conceived promo online, in which they wear matching white suits and confirm everything I detest about this movie. They come off repulsively smug, proud of somehow dodging an NC-17 rating.

This is a body-switch comedy, a genre that hasn't been missed since petering out years ago. Bateman plays Dave, the father getting that scatological wakeup call and a corporate lawyer on the verge of a partnership. Reynolds is Mitch, his inexplicably best friend since third grade, who hasn't matured much since then. Mitch is a struggling actor in "lornos" — light porn movies — whose favorite booty call is extremely pregnant.

Each man envies the other's lifestyle. After an evening of heavy drinking they feel the urge to relieve themselves in a public fountain that turns out to be magical. The next morning, they wake up in each other's bodies, and the expected complications ensue. Mitch, who looks like Dave, lusts after the real Dave's wife (Leslie Mann) and nearly ruins his career. Dave, who looks like Mitch, gets the unsavory sexual fallout. If these two characters weren't friends, then a mistaken identity angle might work better.

But not with the debasing scenario concocted by director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) and screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, diving lower into the gutter than even their scripts for The Hangover movies. Everyone wants to see how much they can get away with, so it's up to moviegoers to draw a line in the smut.

Certainly, the crowd at an advance screening groaned with shocked laughter, but they got the movie for free, and I've learned over the years that makes a distinct subconscious difference. Pay $9 for this garbage and see what you think. And don't forget to finish your chocolate bar before the movie begins.

Steve Persall can be reached at persall@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8365.

. fast facts

The Change-Up

Grade: F

Director: David Dobkin

Cast: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, Mircea Monroe

Screenplay: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore

Rating: R; pervasive crude and sexual humor, strong profanity, nudity, drug content

Running time: 112 min.

Movie review: 'The Change-Up' smells worse than a disposable diaper 08/04/11 [Last modified: Thursday, August 4, 2011 11:14pm]

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