Michael Moran has been given a night off from supervising homework and attending ballet recitals to check out the latest gross-out comedy crowd-pleaser.
The Change-up is a new R-rated comedy from Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin. When you're considering whether to see a comedy there really is only one question: is it funny?
Well is it?
I'm pleased to tell you that The Change-Up is very funny throughout, and will add a brand-new word to your vocabulary between chuckles.
I bet you can't wait to see it. The good news is, you don't need to wait. Just fish around in your DVD collection for a fratboy comedy of some kind – Old School would do nicely – and hold it in your left hand. Now take one of the several zillion remakes of Freaky Friday that every true cineaste will have in their collection and grasp that in your right hand.
Yep. The Change-Up gives a You, Me and Dupree twist to that long line of cinematic body-swap comedies that has been running since Vice Versa in 1916. Whether it's called Vice Versa, Freaky Friday or Face|Off the premise is the same. By some arcane, usually magical process two dissimilar characters, normally one decent and law-abiding and the other something of a free spirit, temporarily inhabit one another's bodies.
In this case you have Jason Bateman as a square corporate lawyer family man type not a million miles from the character he gave us in, say, Hancock.
His oldest friend is, unlikely as it may seem, one of those borderline psychotic man-boys that exist solely in Hollywood fratboy comedies. They're usually played by Jack Black.
In this case, Jack Black was busy and Zach Galifianakis was a bit slow picking up his voicemail so we have Ryan Reynolds as the guy who lives in a stinky man-cave full of discarded beer bottles and takeout cartons.
Yes, Ryan Reynolds. The Green Lantern, Deadpool, the six-pack on the front of every issue of every men's fitness magazine since 2009.
Improbable, I know, but we're about to watch a film where a magic fountain exchanges two men's' personalities so I suppose we should probably let that slide.
Besides, this is the kind of thing that passes for a date movie these days. Given that the lovely Leslie Mann treats those of us who prefer ladies to some entirely gratuitous topless scenes, and fanboy favourite Olivia Wilde keeps acting as if she might too, it's only fair that there's some manly scenery to gaze at as well.
The always welcome Alan Arkin is around to help to define the contrast between the two men for a scene or three, but this film is essentially a two-hander.
There is some absolutely amazing CGI/animatronics work in this movie. Either that or Bateman and Mann's twin babies really can take incredibly rough treatment and still poop on cue.
In keeping with the 'wrong body' theme, the film does have a slight split personality issue. Most of the running time is taken up with Apatow/Farrelly Brothers inspired silliness but every now and then there's some heart-warming redemptive stuff about the two men coming to appreciate their own lives.
It's an important part of the body-swap genre theme, but the sudden shifts of tone from borderline-misogynistic boob gags to damp-eyed sentiment can be a little jarring.
Oh, but to heck with all that – there's that new word I promised you. Ryan Reynolds, the feckless slacker character, puts the 'fuck' into 'feckless' by appearing in 'lorno' movies for a living.
Lorno, we are assured by the film's writers, is that brand of not quite pornographic porn where the actors keep their pants on throughout the proceedings. There would be ample hilarity in having Bateman's straight-laced family man having to act in such a film without Craig Bierko hamming it up shamelessly as the meta-movie's manic Eastern European director.
Actors really do like to play terrible directors don't they? I wonder why..
By the way. When it comes to that scene, keep an eye on the number on the hotel room door. I'm sure it changes from (hoho) 69 to a more prosaic 32.
It's a nice looking film. Atlanta looks very pretty. The performances are solid and, setting aside the ludicrousness of the basic story, there are no howling plot holes. Even if after 112 minutes I still have no idea what Bateman's job actually was. And of course there's a baseball scene. That's a rule in American comedy movies isn't it?
Overall I really enjoyed this film. It's stupid, uneven in tone and often needlessly vulgar but its primary mission is to be funny and it does that as well as any other movie you're going to see this year.
Oh, and there's an extra scene after the credits. But for once it's nothing to do with The Avengers.