Who's In It: Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, Craig Bierko
The Basics: Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman are two best friends who pee in a fountain and make a wish to assume residency in one another's lives. Lighting flashes, thunder booms, the lights go out and body-switching commences. Reynolds, as the more overtly immature of the two, shows up for work at Bateman's law firm dressed for a day at the country club instead of the office, then hurls inappropriately sexual comments at Olivia Wilde before magically learning everything he needs to know about corporate mergers and business law by watching some TV shows. Meanwhile, Bateman learns how not to be uptight, has almost-sex with a 60-year-old porn star and almost-sex with a pregnant woman and almost-sex with Olivia Wilde before deciding he'd rather go back to the almost sexless marriage he already had. Some lessons about growing up and/or loosening up and/or how to change a diaper naturally follow.
What's The Deal: I was about to write that this movie contains a cable TV airing's amount of medium-sized laughs, so maybe you'd prefer to save your money and watch it at home. But then I remembered that cable TV has shows like Louie and Archer, stuff that's really smart and always funny and if I were home on my couch I'd watch a rerun of one of those shows any day before sitting down for a hundred minutes with this insulting waste of time. That's because it flirts with raunchy behavior and bold, wrongheaded R-rated comedy but never commits. In fact it bends itself into a pretzel of niceness to make sure you don't start hating these two men before they find a way to switch back. For a comedy that promises an untethered men's adventure into sexual freedom, it displays all the scared propriety of a nine-year-old boy caught red-handed with a copy of Playboy.
Why It Feels So Much Like The Hangover's Timid Cousin: It was written by The Hangover's Jon Lucas and Scott Moore and, unlike The Hangover's universe, where men are allowed to bulldoze through any societal rule they like and suffer no consequences, this movie is tied up in knots trying to behave. All that's left for it to do, then, is fixate on how icky girls are when they're discovered going to the bathroom, getting pregnant, being old or sexually aggressive--in other words, when they're alive and awake. In fact, the craziest comedic moment takes place in the first five minutes when Bateman's babies projectile-poop in his face. They could have thrown the words "The End" up on screen right then and they'd have had a funny five-minute short film about how gnarly it is to be dumped on by a baby.
Ladies Ladies Ladies: Leslie Mann, as Bateman's wife, must have thought she'd taken a job acting in comedy directed by her husband Judd Apatow, whose films more successfully straddle the divide between dudes being gross dudes being real. That's the only way to explain why she's the funniest, most human-being-like person on screen. And in the most thankless role, TV cop show and sitcom bit-part vet Taafe O'Connell appears as the 60-year-old porn star. Watching her drop her clothes and grind against Ryan Reynolds is meant to be one of the movie's biggest gross-out jokes, but what it turns into is a show-and-tell lesson about what the entertainment industry will do to women who'll do whatever it takes to keep working.