Movie review: "Change-Up" is on par with summer's crass comedies

Dana Barbuto
In this publicity image released by Universal Pictures, Jason Bateman, left, and Ryan Reynolds are shown in a scene from "The Change-Up."

"The Change-Up" is basically a body-switching "Hangover." The premise is two guys get intoxicated and then spend the ensuing days piecing their lives back together.

It all happens one drunken night as they urinate into a stone fountain in downtown Atlanta. The next morning, they are horrified when they wake up in each other's bodies.

A dedicated dad, successful lawyer and husband, Dave (Jason Bateman), becomes his slacker aspiring actor best friend, Mitch (Ryan Reynolds). Dave is a grownup; Mitch still does bong hits for breakfast. Dave gets to try on Mitch's lothario routine while Mitch gets stuck with the doldrums of child-rearing (infant twins and a 5-year-old) and scheduled "dialogue nights" with the wife (Leslie Mann, making the most of another mom/wife gig.)

Into this mix, we add Dave's gorgeous law associate, Sabrina (Olivia Wilde, clocking in a couple notches above Typical Hot Girl). There's also Oscar-winner Alan Arkin in a throwaway role as Mitch's dad.

The comedy at play here comes courtesy of colorful foul - really foul - language. Early on, Reynolds, reverting to his Van Wilder days, recites a laundry list of words that rivals George Carlin's Seven Dirty Words. Then there are the outrageous sexual situations that feature Reynolds in cringe-inducing moments. Oh, man, was I embarrassed for him. One involves an-about-to-pop pregnant woman and another on the set of a "lorno" (light porn) shoot with an over-the-hill female star. That's all I can safely say about that scene, other than the hotel room number is 69. Funny, right?

As the movie chugs along, both actors, excellent at deadpan and irony, go all-in. It's an amusing, if bumpy, ride watching both actors switch gears. Bateman (as Mitch) must navigate Dave's life at home and work, where he's helming a major business deal with an Asian company. (Yup, expect cultural jokes). Reynolds (as Dave) gets to swim in the dating pool. Both situations set up some fish-out-of-water laughs.

That "The Change-Up" feels like "The Hangover's" first cousin is due to the fact that both films share the same writers: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. And David Dobkin is no stranger to directing clueless guys in an R-rated comedy. He helmed "Wedding Crashers," which was a much better flick.

"The Change-Up" is on par with most of this summer's other bawdy comedies. It's better than Bateman's "Horrible Bosses," (what isn't?), but it's no "Bridesmaids." It's instantly forgettable, save one thing -- well, actually, two: Mann's mammaries. Did Judd Apatow (her king-of-comedy husband) really let her bare her breasts? The debate is stirring on whether those girls are real. She hasn't confirmed anything in interviews, but -- and sorry to ruin the fantasy -- look closely and you can tell they are either computer-generated or prosthetics. So, that's it, Mann's bared-breast scene is the most memorable, and shocking, part of the movie. You'll be so fixated on them that you might not get the message -- yes, folks, there's a lesson to be had.

And the moral is: Be careful where you pee and what you wish for. Just kidding. Naturally, body-switching flicks offer the chance to experience things from a different perspective. That can't help but lead to understanding and appreciation. And so, like other films of its ilk, "The Change-Up" is a love-and-friendship story. It's heartwarming, just like all those popular comedies that marry cute and crude.

However, "The Change-Up" never reaches the kind of bold heights reached by "Knocked Up" or "40-Year-Old-Virgin." I can honestly say, though, that I did laugh more than I thought I would.

THE CHANGE-UP: (R for pervasive strong crude sexual content and language, some graphic nudity and drug use.) Cast includes Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde and Leslie Mann. 2 stars out of 4.