This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 11th September 2011
For people of a certain age, everyone can be divided into the haves and the have-nots. That is, those settled with a partner and kids and those who have their freedom and enviable singledom. Depending on which stretch of grass you’re mowing, one may look greener than the other.
The Change-Up takes this premise and dishes it out in the well-worn guise of the “switch” movie. Like Freaky Friday, Big and many imitators, two young men are thrown into one another’s lives for a taste of how the other half live.
Jason Bateman (yes, him again, but always watchable), plays Dave (or is it Mitch?) – a successful lawyer with a beautiful wife and young family to whom they promote “striving for verbal resolution” over fighting. Little wonder he laments to best friend Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) that he “missed all the sex, drugs and bad choices” that he now sees Mitch playing out.
Meanwhile, Mitch the failing actor thinks Dave has it made.
Cue an improbable act of lazy screenwriting, and suddenly the lads are learning about themselves and each other. Once you get the hang of who’s who (trickier in a plot where both are 30-something men, rather than mother and daughter), it all works rather nicely and there are endearing performances from all. It’s not ground-breaking philosophy, but it might make you appreciate what you’ve got.