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Blu-ray Review The Change-Up Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Kevin EK

Senior HTF Member
May 9, 2003

The Change-Up is an example of what happens if filmmakers assume that the right combination of elements will guarantee success.  For example, if you cross the writers of The Hangover and the director of Wedding Crashers, you should get a really funny movie, right?  Not necessarily, as this movie proves.  What was intended as an irreverent, adult-themed version of the Freaky Friday storyline instead turns out to be an uncomfortable, flat affair, occasionally livened up by a momentary flash of laughter or design.  The Blu-ray release captures the whole affair in solid high definition picture and sound, with a few extras to boot.  But the movie itself is too repellant to get a recommendation here.


Studio: Universal/Relativity/Original Film

Release Year:  2011

Length:  1:52:32 (R Rated Version),  1:58:09 (Unrated Version)

Genre:  Comedy/Body Swapping/Gross-Out Humor

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

BD Resolution and Codec: 1080p, R-Rated Version:  AVC(@ an average 19 mbps), Unrated Version:  VC-1 (@ an average 22 mbps)

Audio:  English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 3.7 mbps), French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1, English DVS 2.0

Subtitles:   English SDH, Spanish, French

Film Rating:  R (Pervasive Strong Crude Sexual Content and Language, Some Graphic Nudity and Drug Use, Gross-Out Humor, Toilet Humor), Unrated (See the R Rated Description and Just Imagine…)

Release Date: November 8, 2011

Starring:  Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde and Alan Arkin

Written by:  Jon Lucas & Scott Moore

Directed by:  David Dobkin

Film Rating:    1 ½/5

The Change-Up is one of those movies that really makes the reviewing idea a bit of a chore.  Not only is it uncomfortable and only intermittently funny, it also drags on for nearly two hours.  The basic idea is obviously lifted from the Freaky Friday story – two people swap bodies and try to live each other’s lives.  In this case, the two guys are Mitch (Ryan Reynolds), a thirty-something slacker, and Dave (Jason Bateman), a thirty-something uptight business executive.   On one fateful night, the two guys drunkenly announce that they each wish they could live the other’s life.   The next morning, they find themselves in each other’s bodies and lives, and the movie follows the various hijinks as they mess up and then try to fix the problems.  This is a pretty standard formula, which can work well, given the right material.  Unfortunately, the material here is tilted toward the gross-out gags and the crudest level of toilet humor.  Somebody thought that the edginess of The Hangover would work, except that in this case, the movie passes beyond “edgy” and slips right into “offensive”.  Things get going right away with a gross-out gag involving diaper changing in the first five minutes that should insure the viewer does not want to eat popcorn or anything else during the movie.  That’s followed up by various gags, including the two guys triggering their situation by urinating in a public fountain, discussions of personal grooming, a visit to a softcore porn shoot, and a sexual liason with an extremely pregnant woman.  Presumably, this was intended to be the “Hard R” approach to this story.   That said, there are a few moments where the material actually does work.   One bit, concerning Dave’s daughter dealing with a bully in her ballerina class, is actually pretty funny.   And late in the movie, there is one inspired moment where we see the real Mitch and Dave in each other’s clothes to punctuate their epiphanies.  But that’s not enough to justify sitting through nearly two hours of this stuff.

Another point that rankles here:  The movie is ostensibly set in Atlanta, Georgia.  The movie was filmed there last fall and features the city skyline and many locales, including the aquarium.  I don’t remember Atlanta being discussed by name, so it could be said that the movie is set in Anytown USA, but anyone from the southeast will immediately recognize the location.  The issue here is that the characters are all supposed to be native Georgians  (Mitch and Dave have been friends since grade school, Dave’s company is a long well-established firm, etc), yet there is not one southern accent to be heard anywhere in the movie.  In the making-of featurette, the cast discusses how much they enjoyed working in Atlanta and how much they love the city, yet the movie seems to ignore the location completely.  This isn’t a big thing, but it’s fairly annoying in retrospect.

One other point to consider:  The movie’s advertising rests on the notion that the movie is from the writers of The Hangover and the director of Wedding Crashers.  This is true, but that isn’t a guarantee for some kind of formula success.  It would be just as accurate to say that the movie is from the writers of Four Christmases and Full of It, and the director/producer of Fred Claus and Mr. Woodcock.

The Change-Up has been released on Blu-ray and DVD this past week.  The Blu-ray actually includes the DVD in the packaging, along with an insert with instructions for downloading a digital copy of the movie.  The Blu-ray and the DVD share pretty much all the extras, but the Blu-ray presents everything in high definition and adds the usual Blu-ray functionality and D-Box functionality.  Both editions contain two versions of the movie – the R-Rated theatrical cut, and a longer Unrated cut that adds more to the softcore porn shoot and the grooming discussions, as well as some additional material during the closing credits.


The Change-Up is actually presented in two HD encodes, both in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio.  The R-Rated theatrical cut is presented in an AVC encode averaging about 19 mbps, and the Unrated cut gets a VC-1 encode averaging about 22 mbps.  It’s a little mystifying why this approach was taken, when this could have been done with seamless branching.   In any case, both transfers are the usually solid work for new Universal releases.  The details and the colors throughout are strong, and the occasional CGI blends in well.


The Change-Up gets a good DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, which predictably finds most of the sound in the front channels with the dialogue, while the surrounds are usually filled with music.  There’s a bit of atmospheric sound, but nothing that will make a big impact.  The subwoofer comes into play for a few trick effects (like the fountain gag) and to buttress the music.  There are also DTS 5.1 mixes in French and Spanish, and an English DVS track to go with the theatrical cut.


The Change-Up comes  with a few special features, all of which are included on the DVD version, which itself is included in the Blu-ray package.  There’s a commentary by director David Dobkin, a gag reel, an alternate ending, and two featurettes.  The Blu-ray also comes with the usual pocket BLU and BD-Live functionality, as well as D-Box functionality.

Commentary with Director David Dobkin    (Available on both versions of the movie) – David Dobkin talks through the movie on this scene-specific track.  He covers all the bases, from the technical aspects of the shoot to his creative thoughts.  This isn’t a particularly gripping track, but he does speak from experience about such things as trying to keep the scenes fresh even after having read and rehearsed them numerous times.

“Fist Fight” Deleted Scene  (6:36, 1080p) – SPOILERS HERE!  DON’T READ UNTIL YOU’VE SEEN THE MOVIE – So here we have what is actually an alternate ending, or at least the first part of the ending.  Whereas in the released film, the guys find the magic fountain in a crowded mall and do their business in it there to reverse their fortunes, in this alternate take, the guys find only the fountain’s sculpture in an empty warehouse.  It’s a strange idea, which then provokes the titled fight, which then leads to the guys urinating on the head of the statute.  Why anyone thought that this was funny is a complete mystery to me.  Presumably, after this scene, the movie resumes with the guys waking up in their own bodies.

Gag Reel (5:13, 1080p) – This quick gag reel features the cast flubbing lines or talking back to the director.  There are one or two funny bits in here, but most of it is the usual blown takes followed by inventive profanity.

Time For A Change:  The Making of The Change-Up (6:53, 1080p) – This featurette covers the bases of the making of the movie.  The cast and director weigh in with their enthusiasm for a “Hard R” version of this story.  There’s also some surprising discussion about the Atlanta locations, which the cast hails as having benefited the shoot.  Except that nobody mentions that the movie actually ignores the location.  (The real reason for the Georgia shoot – the tax incentives given to the producers – is never even mentioned.)

Family Matter (4:37, 1080p) – This quick featurette is really focused on the CGI work done to augment the things done with the onscreen twin babies.  If anyone really wanted to see how a truly repulsive diaper change gag was accomplished, this featurette happily answers the question.  I have to also question the taste of the person who titled the featurette.

pocket BLU – The usual pocket BLU functionality is present here.

BD-Live – The usual BD-Live functionality is present, including a few online trailers that play as soon as you put the disc in your internet-connected player.

D-Box – This functionality is present here, but I’m at a loss to figure out how it would be useful for a movie like this.

The movie and the special features are subtitled in English, French and Spanish.  The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu. 

DVD Edition – The Blu-ray package includes a DVD copy of the movie.  The standard definition DVD includes both cuts of the movie in standard definition, along with all of the special features.  Of course, the Blu-ray functional features like pocket BLU and BD-Live are not part of that equation.

Digital Copy – An insert in the case has instructions for downloading a digital copy of the movie.  It is not indicated, but I believe this will be the theatrical cut and not the unrated version.  This download option will expire on April 26, 2012.


The Change-Up is not a movie I can recommend, as I had difficulty even getting through it myself.  The Blu-ray, however is a perfectly acceptable treatment of a current movie – with solid HD picture and sound and a few extras to boot.  Fans of Jason Bateman or Ryan Reynolds may be curious enough to rent this.  I just have to give the warning that just having this cast, this director or these writers is no guarantee for a great night of comedy. 

Kevin Koster

November 12, 2011.

Equipment now in use in this Home Theater:

Panasonic 65” VT30 Plasma 3D HDTV – set at “THX” picture mode

Denon AVR-3311Cl Receiver

Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray Player

PS3 Player (used for calculation of bitrates for picture and sound)

5 Mirage Speakers (Front Left/Center/Right, Surround Back Left/Right)

2 Sony Speakers (Surround Left/Right – middle of room)

Martin Logan Dynamo 700 Subwoofer


Kevin EK

Senior HTF Member
May 9, 2003
You're not as sorry as I am, believe me. But if I can warn the readers here, maybe I'll have done a good service.

BTW thanks for catching my typo. I initially had the Film Rating as Concert Rating, since I build my reviews from the priors as a template. Got caught that time...

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