Giddy up, little doggies, and don’t you be magically switching bodies on me now! We all have fond memories of body-swap movies like Big or Freaky Friday, even Face/Off if no one’s around to judge us. Unfortunately, “To mention such movies in connection with this one is a sacrilege,” says Roger Ebert’s The Change-Up review, who is taken aback not by the sheer number, but the treatment of, all the naked breasts in the film. “There are a great many of them, frequently and roughly fondled, for one reason only, and it isn’t eroticism,” Ebert writes. “If it were, I would sympathize. It has to do with the systematic exploitation of every actress in a film where God forbid an actor would be asked to display his penis.”
Like most reviewers, The New York Times’ Stephen Holden seems somewhat psychologically scarred by the first scene, which involves a baby projectile pooping into Jason Bateman’s mouth. “No matter how diligently The Change-Up scrubs itself, it leaves behind a faint if unmistakable scent from its initial eruption,” he declares. Laments The New York Daily News’ Elizabeth Weitzman, “The thing is, this could have been funny,” though she concludes that “Bateman is so reliably charming he single-handedly lifts the movie from disaster.”
If you are more than happy to deal with a mouth full of diaper filler, there are, in fact, actual laughs to be had. “The bigger surprise, though, is how funny this movie wound up being, especially after a horrendous first few minutes,” NY1’s Neil Rosen writes, crediting Leslie Mann as Bateman’s wife with grounding the porn highjinks and stripper jokes: “She goes deep and gives a performance that not only rings true and is right on the money, but she’s also hilarious.”
Like many critics, Rolling Stones’ Peter Travers gives props to the hard-working cast, if not the script. “What The Change-Up has on its side — and it’s not to be underestimated — is a pair of live wires,” he says. “No matter Bateman and Reynolds make The Change-Up seem a lot better than it is. Each earns a star in my review. The movie would be literally nothing without them.” Explains The Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday “Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds struggle valiantly to transcend the movie they’re in. Sometimes they do - especially Reynolds,” before noting “Although Olivia Wilde co-stars as Dave’s comely legal assistant, this is primarily a vehicle for the same veiled homoerotic impulses that drive the bromantic-comedy genre (witness the recurring motif of Mitch giving Dave instructions in the care and grooming of his nether-regions).” Now I want to body-switch with her and watch that movie.