Director: David Dobkin
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin
Synopsis: Dave is a lawyer running for partner in a law firm while raising three children and struggling to find time for his wife. Mitch is an actor whom struggles to find work and lives the true bachelor’s life with a schedule for seeing women on each day of the week. They are both friends from childhood, and while wishing for each others life while urinating in a magical fountain, their wish comes true as they experience a body-swap.
Another body-swap film has hit the big screen, in the tradition of The Hot Chick, Freaky Friday, and even Australian effort Dating the Enemy. Despite the well-worn ground though, this is the first body-swap film that I can recall that had taken the concept this far down the gross-out comedy path, something of a cross of this genre with the likes of The Hangover.
This twist on the theme though is the only thing about this film that is actually new. It is really up to the viewer to decide whether this is a good or a bad thing. As a comedy to watch to kill a few hours, it hits all the right notes, in both humour and emotional pay-off. We have seen it all before, the cliché quotient is high, yet personally I could not help but find it entertaining. For one thing, to its credit, it gives a reasonable excuse as to why the two friends do not just immediately swap back when the situation gets increasingly difficult.
The success of these films relies heavily on the ability of the actor’s to completely change their personalities when the swap has occurred. Both Reynolds and Bateman succeed in this. Bateman in particular seems to be having a lot of fun, given the opportunity to break out of his everyman routine (as in last week’s review of horrible bosses) and really let loose with cursing and misogyny in large doses. His child-rearing incompetence generates some of the biggest laughs of the film. Reynolds has the less rewarding side of this equation, having to play the square for a large part of the film, yet by focussing on the awkwardness of the situations he faces, hi scenes against the odds also maintain a good entertainment value.
Leslie Mann perhaps steals the show though from an emotional standpoint. Sure, the trailer focusses on her most comic moment in the film, but she is very convincing as the woman whom feels she is loosing touch with her husband, and is almost devastatingly heartbreaking as her situation appears to deteriorate further when Mitch is in her husband’s body. These emotional moments are predictable, true, but forgivable when so well performed. Olivia Wilde is also good as Sabrina, whom plays secretary to Dave, the latter whom is highly attracted to her, and faces a moral dilemma when he has the opportunity to see her in Mitch’s body. Wilde keeps showing some talent in every film she has been in of late, though it would;d be nice to see her get some role more worth than “the hot girl”. Finally, rounding out the supporting players is Arkin playing Mitch’s Dad, whom is trying to reconnect with his son.
So in the end, the film is utterly predictable, and often opts for gross-out comedy similar to other recent bromance efforts. Yet good performances do make this a very watchable film, despite the fact it is far from life changing or mind-altering.
3 stars out of 5