I have a challenge for Hollywood executives: stop with the re-makes! Yes, I get that there are focus groups that toss out marketing ideas that make their way into films. And some of these ideas have performed well over the years. However, this cannot continue as the trend in filmmaking any longer.
In The Change-Up – horrible title by the way – Dave (Jason Bateman) and Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) switch bodies to live each others’ lives. These lives include Dave as a father of three and a lawyer on the brink of making partner with his law firm, but neglecting to keep his wife happy. Mitch is a charlatan who calls himself an actor but dabbles in light porn and has inappropriate liaisons with women.
If you look at screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore’s film on paper, it looks good. You’ve got Bateman, who is maniacally funny and Ryan Reynolds, one of the hottest actors around. You put the two together in a film and allow them to pretend to be each other.
This concept would work, if only director David Dobkin had made sure that Reynolds and Bateman had chemistry as childhood BFFs. It also hurts the film that Change-Up tries too hard to be raunchy. It goes a bit too far with the grandma-with-the-implants gag. Yes, you read that right. The film hits itself with a low blow and doesn’t quite rebound from such raunch. Gag, indeed.
Bateman and Reynolds should be commended for essentially playing two different roles in the same movie. So much so, that (spoiler alert!) when the two characters switch back, it’s hard to see them as their former selves – if that makes any sense.
Confused? So am I. Why did this film have to be made in the first place? We could have lived without yet another Freaky Friday knock-off. There must be a better vehicle for Bateman and Reynolds to show their comedic chops, say, by making good use of the subplots.
Dave’s wife is about to leave him because he’s married to his job. Mitch has a strained relationship with his dad, because his dad has entered into one failed marriage after another and can’t seem to find “the one.” Just looking at the subplots on paper, if screenwriters Lucas and Moore had focused more on the interpersonal relationships of the two men, scrapped the idiotic notion that they switch bodies and further explored the bond between the two men, they may have had a pretty good film.
Hopefully, one day, executives will realize that part of the beauty of nostalgia is the time in which a film is released. Just because it worked in the 1970s, doesn’t mean The Change-Up is going to work in the 21st century. And, using the excuse that you’re introducing the new generation to great cinema is a lie. If you want to introduce great cinema, you go with the classics, not the knock-off re-make.
Kimberly Grant may be reached at KAliciaG@aol.com or at www.facebook.com/fashgirl83
Pictured is Ryan Reynolds as Mitch Planko