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Movie Review

The Change-Up

Body-switching comedies seem to come in and out of vogue in Hollywood, marked by singular successes like "Freaky Friday" and "Big." So it makes sense that others might want to revive interest—and the hilarious "The Change-Up" will. Thanks to the instant-classic comic-duo casting of Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds, this becomes the summer's freshest, raunchiest, smartest comedy surprise—a movie fully charged with huge, booming laughs and a big heart.

This is not a body-switching flick as much as a wish-fulfillment take on the old adage "the grass is always greener." Dave Lockwood (Bateman) and Mitch Planko (Reynolds) are mismatched best friends. Lockwood is a workaholic lawyer with newborn babies, a demanding wife, and way too much on his plate to stop and smell the roses. Planko is a footloose bachelor into lots of freewheeling sex and other fun stuff, a Z-grade actor who dabbles in cheapo soft-porn films. When the pair stops to pee in a fountain one night, a spell occurs, and the two find themselves suddenly switching bodies but not their general mindset. Director David Dobkin ("Wedding Crashers") and writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore ("The Hangover") milk the setup for all it's worth, getting lots of comedic mileage out of the switch when dimwitted Mitch (stuck in Dave's body) now must deal with closing a major business deal, as well as keeping his family life intact and his wife (a terrific Leslie Mann) happy. Meanwhile, a horrified Dave (in Mitch's body) finds he is ill-prepared for his buddy's swinging lifestyle. Be careful what you wish for.

The casting here is perfect. It helps that Bateman and Reynolds trained in TV sitcoms. Their comedic timing is impeccable, their chemistry right on, and their skills as top-of-the-craft farceurs unimpeachable. It also is a good thing they are such likable and relatable actors, or this whole soufflé could have sunk. Watching Reynolds trying to maneuver his way through shooting a cheapo porn scene or Bateman dealing with his babies' unorthodox bathroom habits is pure comic gold. It is hard to imagine better casting (credit Lisa Beach and Sarah Katzman), and Dobkin seems as blessed as he was with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in "Wedding Crashers." Mann is also wonderful, taking the standard wife role and going to town with it. Her near nervous breakdown scene with her captive teen babysitter is worth the price of admission. Olivia Wilde, as an attractive colleague of Dave's, oozes sexuality and charm. As Mitch's dad, Alan Arkin makes a few brief appearances, nicely underplaying the sharp but understandably frustrated parent of a loose-cannon son.

If you want to have a good time and escape the dire circumstances of the world for a couple of hours, do not miss this raucous summer treat.

Genre: Comedy
Written by: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Directed by: David Dobkin
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin.

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