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Movie Review

To say that lifelong friends Mitch and Dave lead merely different lives is to say that apples and fire hydrants are vaguely dissimilar items. No, Mitch and Dave have massively, poles apart, contradictory lifestyles. Man-child Mitch's world is full of daily recreational debauchery and as many joints as he can smoke between low-life acting auditions. As his father says, his accomplishments can be easily held on a single eyelash. Married, hardworking pillar of the community Dave, however, has three adorable kids, a beautiful wife (whom he never sees because he's always working) and a successful law career that he's strived for all his life.

But human beings have been jealous for silly reasons since nearly the dawn of time, and, naturally, each man wants what the other has. So let's just cut to the chase—which is exactly what the film does—and register the obvious: They switch lives.

Suddenly their wildest—and most sexually perverted—dreams are possible. Mitch can have a family, a real career and, he thinks, the conquest of Dave's sexy wife, Jamie. Dave can take up with Mitch's weekly harem and have guiltless sex with every nameless one of them. Not to mention the fact that he can goof off, get high and watch porn whenever he wants.

Positive Elements

All this frivolous "freedom" doesn't come without severe consequence, of course. And each man gets a rude awakening regarding the other's life—and his own. So while all moviegoers get is a foul, fetid and rotten flick, Mitch and Dave gradually learn that they're grateful for the blessings they didn't recognize they had.

Dave truly begins to cherish Jamie and his children for the first time in years. Discovering how distraught Jamie is over his inattention, he's heartbroken and works to change his workaholic behavior and nurture her. Mitch sees that he hasn't earned the accolades Dave receives while Mitch is in his body—which means he's inspired to work harder.

(The big asterisk to this positivity is twofold. 1) The quite literally obscene content surrounding it. 2) The fact that the feel-good ending, which puts each man back in his own life, makes nary a moral mumble about the life Mitch is going back to.)

Spiritual Content

The closest these guys get to spirituality is talking about convincing Catholic schoolgirls to give up their virginity. Oh, and both men thank God once they have their own lives back. I'll let you decide whether they're really sincere or not.

Sexual Content

In frantically trying to record The Change-Up's extensive sexual content, my pen began to smoke within the first 20 minutes or so of this two-hour film. The majority of that noted material I will now attempt to summarize—because actually documenting it play by play would be unthinkable … and unreadable. When Dave (as Mitch) shows up for a "lorno" film shoot ("light" porn, which is called a "growth industry"), we see him simulating sex acts with a topless actress. Before the lengthy scene wraps, dialogue, images and sound effects have introduced intercourse, anal fingering and a ménage à trois.

Later, a very pregnant woman strips down to a g-string and tries to have sex with Dave (still in Mitch's body). The baby can be seen kicking within her swollen abdomen, and he's horrified. But not so horrified that he doesn't "play along" for a while. And his lingering compliance pushes even more explicit sexual images onto the screen.

Mitch (as Dave) is seen nude from the front, clutching his genitals. Jamie reveals her breasts to the camera while getting ready for bed and while on the toilet. Dave's co-worker, Sabrina, shows off her legs while getting a tattoo near her genitals. She also bares her breasts for Dave (as Mitch) while trying to seduce him. Masturbation (methods and motivations) is mentioned frequently (including in front of children). We see snippets of the porn Dave watches while he masturbates (his hand just out of the frame). We hear an intimate story about a woman's vibrator. And the tattoo scene is structured to make moviegoers think they're watching Sabrina use one.

Dave is fascinated by Mitch's "romantic" life and asks him to tell all about it. Mitch happily obliges, filling in the raunchy details, listing all the exotic sexual positions that he says Dave isn't familiar with because he's married. It's said that every man has a "cancer list"—a list of all the women he would have sex with if his wife died of cancer. And we hear lots of discussion about whether or not it would be cheating for Dave (as Mitch) to have sex with women other than his wife. The conclusion? Nah.

Dave, however, subconsciously and hypocritically recognizes how odious this is and warns Mitch not to have sex with Jamie. Dave's definition of marriage? No sex with other women and no sex with your wife either. Mitch doesn't care; he's eager for a romp with Jamie anyway—until he sees her use the bathroom. Then he wants nothing to do with her.

Jamie tells the family's teenage babysitter about her sex life because she has no one else to talk to. Mitch mentions having had a semester's worth of sex as a teen with one of his high school teachers. There's talk (some of it graphic) about swapping sexual partners, penis size, shaved genitalia, tampons, condoms, oral sex, anal sex, homosexuality, pedophilia, "eye rape," losing one's virginity, pole dancing and how unsexy breast-feeding is. Note that we also see Jamie breast-feed, and we watch, from the waist up, when Mitch (as Dave) shaves Dave (as Mitch).

Violent Content

Mitch (in Dave's body) teaches Dave's grade school-age daughter, Kara, that bullying a bully is commendable—that "violence is cool." When another little girl continues to trip Kara at ballet class, Mitch tells her to make a shiv and kill the girl and her family. Kara eventually throws down the little girl during a recital, and Mitch stands up and cheers.

One of Dave and Jamie's twins (still an infant) has a habit of violently banging his head against his crib's rails. While in the care of Mitch (as Dave), the babies are nearly a) electrocuted, b) mutilated by a blender and c) cut with knives after he deposits the two tikes on the kitchen counter. One of the babies throws a meat cleaver that almost hits Mitch.

Jamie hits and slaps Mitch and Dave repeatedly. Mitch (in Dave's body) tries to choke Dave (in Mitch's body) and gouge out his eyes with his fingers. The "lorno" director vulgarly threatens Dave. Jamie says she'll hurt Dave if he doesn't get out of bed and feed the babies. A suicidal bullet to the head and slitting throats are referenced.

Crude or Profane Language

The third word spoken in this film is an f-word. About 100 more follow it. There are 20-25 s-words. God's name is abused 30-plus times; it's coupled with "d‑‑n" a half-dozen times. Christ's name is misused around 10 times. There's a handful each of "h‑‑‑," "b‑‑tard," "p‑‑‑," "d‑‑k," "b‑‑ch," "p‑‑‑y," "t-tty," "c‑‑k," "a‑‑" and "douche bag."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Shots of hard liquor take the fore. Mitch smokes several joints, including while driving. Other drug use is mentioned and a bong is seen. Dave says he longs to get high all day just like Mitch.

Other Negative Elements

Because Dave was more responsible in his twenties than Mitch, Dave feels that he wasted his own youth. He says he wishes he had done more drugs and bedded more women and made more bad choices.

We see Dave's infant son defecate (profusely) into Dave's face and mouth. A half-dressed Jamie loudly defecates on a toilet. Dave (as Mitch) is also seen and heard in the bathroom. Onscreen, Dave and Mitch urinate twice. Once it's in public with children watching. And both times, the camera watches them from the front.

Mitch calls Dave's kids "retarded" and "a little Downsy." Several racist statements about Jews and Japanese are made.


The Change-Up director David Dobkin told traileraddict.com, "The married [lifestyle]. … It's hard. It's frustrating. It's like, we're both fortunate, we're like kinda half living the fairytale and half like, Oh my god, it's so hard, right? So it's like the whole arc of the movie is about being grateful for what you have and being able to see what's right in front of your doorstep. And I think that's the challenge all the time. I mean, I think that's the whole core story of the movie."

Well, not so much, really. Dobkin does take audiences to a couple of briefly thoughtful places. But to call pint-sized, tacked-on, paint-by-number "inspirations" the core story and whole arc of the movie is, at the very least, a gross overstatement. "Respect my life," both men command each other. But what they can't see is the fact that they haven't even respected their own. And their story certainly doesn't respect its audience. It was written by the same crew that proffered The Hangover and directed by the guy who helmed Wedding Crashers. So never mind that its ethos is stolen from a dozen other films—from Freaky Friday to The Family Man to Vice VersaThe Change-Up naturally serves up a decidedly (hard) R-rated (gagging) blend of obscenity and perversion not quite tempered by a tiny dash of sensitivity.

Dobkin also told Trailer Addict, "This script went really far, so we went really far with the script. It gives you a lot of freedom. I think the biggest playground for comedy right now seems to be the R-rated genre and I think that's just because the characters are more fully expressed and it's less canned and a little bit more … realistic. People talk the way they really talk, they can behave the way they want to behave."

He thinks that's a good thing. You already know what I think.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

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Ryan Reynolds as Mitch; Justin Bateman as Dave; Olivia Wilde as Sabrina; Leslie Mann as Jamie; Alan Arkin as Mitch's Father


David Dobkin ( )


Universal Pictures



Record Label



In Theaters

August 5, 2011

On Video

November 8, 2011

Year Published



Meredith Whitmore

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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