Film & TV

The Change-Up: Bromatic Jokes and Homoerotic Endgames

A uniquely Freudian entry in the body-switching comedy canon, The Change-Up stars Jason
Bateman as anal-retentive lawyer/family man Dave, and Ryan Reynolds as Dave's classically anal-expulsive stoner/playboy childhood friend Mitch. One drunken night, Dave admits that he's secretly jealous of Mitch's life of reckless indulgence.

Thanks to some hazy mechanics involving a stroke of lightning and public urination, Dave and Mitch wake up the next morning having exchanged bodies.

The Change-Up
might not be terribly interested in explicating exactly

how pissing can activate the transfer of souls, but it is interested in

piss--the ugly realities of bodies and the fluids they excrete. A rare

R-rated entry in a genre usually geared to teens that pivots on the

discrepancy in life experience and hipness between an adult and an

adolescent, The Change-Up distinguishes itself as a kind of

horror-comedy built around men in their late 30s confronting the basic

facts of bodily function as if for the first time. From shit to

schmaltz: "We have to use this!" Mitch says through Dave's mouth.

But, par for the course, attempts to capitalize on their mystical

accident turn the two bros into Better People. Once Dave and Mitch work

out all their shit (metaphorically speaking), the film's final dialogue

exchange reveals The Change-Up to be one long setup to a bromantic joke

that maybe comes closer than any previous film to fulfilling that

woebegone subgenre's implicit homoerotic endgame.

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Karina Longworth