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For the long list of things that work well in 'The Change-Up,' there's an almost as long list of things that do not. Being an R-rated comedy branded as "from the director of 'Wedding Crashers' and the writers of 'The Hangover,'" half of the movie doesn't follow suit with their credentials. R-rated comedies are filled with adult humor, language, and situations. While there is plenty of that here, there's also an overwhelming amount a stupid humor, the low-brow stuff you expect from garbage like 'Little Fockers' - not from the director of 'Wedding Crashers' and the writers of 'The Hangover.'
Jason Bateman plays an uptight lawyer trying to make partner at his prestigious law firm. He's got the picture perfect life - a beautiful wife, three (mostly) cute children, a stable job etc. Ryan Reynolds plays his oldest friend, a 17-year-old boy trapped in a man's body. He quits everything he tries and leads a shallow, seemingly lonely life. At opposite ends of the spectrum, they covet the lives of one another. While drunkenly peeing in a magic fountain one night, they each say, "I wish I had your life," at the same time and - like the mighty Zoltar - the statue grants their wish. When they wake up the next morning, they've swapped bodies and lives. Wackiness ensues.
Reynolds gives a pretty good impression of stick-in-the-mud Bateman, but it's Bateman's performance as crass and vulgar Reynolds that really takes the cake. He plays Reynolds just as well as Reynolds plays Reynolds. Bateman has done his fair share of potty-mouth R-rated comedies, but it's especially hilarious to see him do it as Ryan Reynolds. But the dilemma between them isn't the only identity crisis with the film. 'The Change-Up' itself suffers from comedic identity crisis.
The majority of 'The Change-Up' plays out like an R-rated farce - not only in the "mistaken identity" storyline, but in the way the characters act. Neither of our two leads are capable of keeping their mouths shut and taking the simple, obvious route. No, that would make this story easy and uninteresting. The consequences of their decisions always lead them to the worst possible scenario, which is where the frustrating, drive-you-crazy farcical feel stems from. Just like the 'Focker' movies, 'The Change-Up' is maddening. But while trying to be an envelope-pushing vulgar comedy, it doesn't fully commit to it. For example, 'The Change-Up' features four scenes with female nudity. In each of them, the actresses don either prosthetic private parts or obviously CG naughty bits. Since when did R-rated comedies have to fake the things that make them R-rated?
The second part of this split personality film wears the skin of a bad Ben Stiller "family" movie. You know 'The Change-Up' has problems from the opening scene where Bateman's kid shoots projectile diarrhea into his mouth. Luckily, the farther you make it into the film, the less this simpleton humor shows its face. The first half is filled with it, but the second half is almost devoid of it. Halfway through, 'The Change-Up' finds it's tone and, once it does, it works quite well. There's a scene where Bateman's wife (Leslie Mann) emotionally breaks down and explains to Reynolds (actually her husband at that point) about their marital issues. From this moment on, the film finds a sentimental heart that never leaves, all the while maintaining the R-rated comedy - and it works! Bateman (playing Reynolds' character) learns how to be a grown-up and hold responsibilities and Reynolds (playing Bateman's character) learns to enjoy life again and leave his job at work. In this zany bro-mantic comedy, each learns a life lesson and walks away a better person.
It's not often that a movie that begins with such a painful opening scene and first half can improve in the second half, but 'The Change-Up' does it. The second half is definitely worth watching, but it's a bear to get to. Unless you're completely committed to the comedic styles of Bateman and Reynolds, you might not be able to make it to the good stuff.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Change-Up' hits Blu-ray on a BD-50 housed in a standard blue keepcase that, for a limited time, also comes with a DVD disc of the movie and a code that unlocks a digital copy. Upon inserting the disc into your Blu-ray player, five skippable trailers play back-to-back ('Cowboys & Aliens,' 'The Scorpion King III,' 'Honey 2,' 'Larry Crowne' and the 'Jurassic Park' trilogy) followed by a Universal Studios Home Entertainment vanity reel, after which you'll be taken to Universal's standard Blu-ray menu.
'The Change-Up' is presented with a glorious 1080p/VC-1 transfer in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. For a movie lacking in quality, it's video content isn't lacking at all.
This clean transfer features a small amount of grain and a great amount of detail. From specks of baby powder on Bateman's face, rogue hairs on Mann's head, stubble on Reynolds' face, lint on Reynolds' clothes and spots on Alan Arkin's noggin, it's all noticeable in high detail. You'll even notice freckles on many of the actors' faces that you didn't know were there. The great detail also shows off Olivia Wilde's perfect complexion. It's so clear that you'd think DNR was used on shots of her face. But at the same time, the high detail makes the bad CG stick out like a sore thumb. From green screen driving scenes, toddlers wielding butcher knives and bashing their heads into objects, Bateman pouring milk on children and CG breasts and "floating" nipples, it's all noticeable.
Black levels are so deep and rich that you can't tell where the bars at the top and bottom of the widescreen presentation end and begin during night shots. The rainbow palette in Reynolds' apartment shows rich, vibrant and saturated colors and fleshtones are always spot-on.
Shadows are always perfectly delineated, showing just as much detail within as there is outside. In one scene, strands of Wilde's rain-soaked hair are just as visible in the shadows as they are in the light. Artifacting, edge enhancement and aliasing are absent and noise doesn't show up for a single shot.
Two English and two foreign audio tracks are available: English DTS-HD Master Audio and English DVS 2.0, as well as Spanish and French DTS Surround 5.1.
The lossless sound mix for 'The Change-Up' is fantastic. When our characters are in a conference room full of legal chatter, your hear the quiet whispers all around you. When they're in the stadium of a Braves game and the crowd erupts in cheer, the rear speakers light up and make you feel like you're in the stands with them. The pitter-patter of rain sounds like it's falling in your theater. When Bateman and Reynolds make their wish, the city lights sequentially shut off around them. The sound of breakers being tripped trigger all across the theater randomly. Being a comedy, this isn't the type of movie to constantly use the rear speakers, but when they do it sounds fantastic.
The channels are mostly filled with generic quirky comedy scoring, but towards the end, after a montage to Coldplay's new single "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall," an unusually strong and epic-sounding score appears that applies the familiar melody from that same Coldplay track. The symphonic score sounds amazing.
The music, vocal and effects dynamics are perfectly mixed. Nothing is ever lost. Playing a small role in the audio, bass is occasionally present and never overpowering. The audio is perfect, but due to the nature of the film's content, it hardly features anything demo-worthy.
Individually, Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds are hilarious - but for some reason the filmmakers didn't trust them to do their own thing, so they added a high amount of lowest-common-denominator humor and dumbed it down. The first half is mostly terrible, but the second half finds its footing. Too bad this mediocre movie couldn't match the high audio and video quality of the Blu-ray. Had they been on the same level, 'The Change-Up' would be a must-own R-rated comedy - but as it, it's only a rental.