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ink_change-up_08-03-2011_2R1MMNCI“The Change Up,” a new comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, is like two movies in one. It’s part gross out comedy, part heart tugger and all Hollywood switcheroo.

Reynolds and Bateman are Mitch and Dave, best friends since grade three but total opposites. Bateman is a career mind lawyer and family man, Reynolds a slacker womanizer who lives like a frat boy. Both have a bad case of “the grass is always greener” and on one freaky Friday they wake up to discover they have switched personalities. Of course no one will believe their outlandish story of personality swapping so they are forced to live each other’s lives until they can figure out how to switch back. Mitch must fake being a lawyer and Dave has to… well, pretend to be a slacker. In their time in each other’s bodies they discover much about themselves–Dave learns not to be so uptight and Mitch learns never to let Dave get a tatoo–and learn to rspect one another’s lives.

“The Change-Up” feels as though it switched directors midway through. The first hour is all gross out–baby endangerment, diaper hijinx and pregnant sex kittens–but into the second hour the characters not only start respecting one another, but the audience as well. It’s still pretty outrageous stuff, but it has far more heart than the first half and the “I can’t believe they just did that” laughs morph into genuine laughs based on the story and characters.

Bateman and Reynolds have good chemistry and do a nice, subtle job of integrating the other’s personality tics into their performances. Bateman adds a little “Van Wilder” to his speech and Reynolds drops his energy a few notches to match Bateman’s more laconic style. It works because they are both likeable actors, with charm and charisma to burn. They can play the comedy, but later, when real life enters the story, they can play that as well. This would have been a much different movie if flat out comedians like Will Ferrell and Danny McBride or thesps like Al Pacino and Sean Penn had been cast as the leads.

“The Change Up” feels a bit wonky, as if it can’t decide whether to be an R-rated gross fest or a heartfelt rom com. Somewhere between the two is a better movie than the one we got, but for those with a strong stomach for diaper humor there ae some laughs here.

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