Wednesday, 21 September 2011

REVIEW: The Change-Up

Also, this film is obscenely gross.

This summer is going to be known by many comedy fans as the summer they officially had to start apologizing for Jason Bateman. Time was when Bateman was a figure of incredible credibility, figure-head of what might be the most critically adored comedy in television history in Arrested Development, which ended in such a premature, grief-stricken hysteria that it made villains out of the Fox Network for a decade and made every actor associated with the show an incredibly high-value comedic asset. Will Arnett became a frequent presence in terrible movies starring Will Ferrell, David Cross' career got a bump, Alia Shawkat got to be an indie movie star in such things as Whip It and Cedar Rapids, purely off the back of AD, Tony Hale was cast in every TV show known to man and Michael Cera, will he got to become public enemy No.1 Michael Cera.

Most of these actors crashed and burned, with Cera being the most high-profile and high speed rise and fall, but Jason Bateman seemed to slowly but surely ascend after the end of Arrested Development. Arnett and Cera came out quicker, but Bateman seemed to be going about it the smarter way, playing supporting roles and forging an identity in movies that wasn't solely dependent on his AD persona. Dramatic work in films like Juno or The Kingdom led to a higher profile and eventually to 2011, where Jason Bateman movie star is now a statement people can say. But at the same time, the work seems to be getting broader and broader. Horrible Bosses was perhaps a better example of this, but The Change-Up feels like the moment Bateman becomes a harder guy to praise quite so highly. Granted, he's the best thing about the Change-Up and certainly does his best to elevate the material. But fuck. This is absolute bottom of the barrel movie comedy, built of a dumb premise that seems to only get dumber as things go along.

It feels like the movie does the same thing these terrible studio comedies always do. They get all their indulgence and raunch done and over with in the movie's first half and then work incredibly hard to say how wrong that behavior was in the second half. It's a movie that has no identity and nothing to say, and surely nothing funny to say. Bateman is bending over backwards to make it work, and Reynolds is about as affable/douchey as he always is. Leslie Mann has a nothing role, and Alan Arkin turns up presunably to pay for his granddaughter's piano lesson. It's all the worst things about mainstream comedy films put into one.

It's not going to get the worst rating I've ever given, because if you way up the material against what he's had in the past, Bateman is actually pretty terrific, but the Change-Up is still something I wish I could unsee.

Rating: 4/10

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