A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this raunchy body-swapping comedy is more like The Hangover than Freaky Friday. From the opening F-bomb to the end credits, the movie is chock full of language ("f--k" is said in nearly every scene), sexuality (nudity includes breasts, a soft porn movie set, and a fully naked, very pregnant woman), and crass toilet humor. Plus, the movie's themes are actually pretty mature, revolving around two best friends who couldn't be less like each other but secretly envy each other's life. Because it stars two of the funniest actors in Hollywood (Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds), parents should expect even young teens to be interested, but this movie is definitely a "hard-R" for a reason.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Dave (Jason Bateman) and Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) have been best friends since elementary school, but they couldn't be less alike -- Dave's the father of three and on the brink of becoming a partner at a powerful Atlanta law firm, while Mitch is content to smoke marijuana and juggle a calendar full of low-rent acting gigs and a variety of sexual partners. After getting drunk together at a bar one night, the two men simultaneously pee in a public fountain together while saying "I wish I had your life." The next morning, Mitch wakes up in Dave's body and vice-versa, but when they drive back to the magical fountain, they discover that it's been moved into the bureaucratic mire of the Atlanta Parks Department. Until they can locate the fountain, Mitch has to be pretend to be a successful attorney and devoted father, and Dave has to be a slacker actor with a busy hook-up schedule.
Is it any good?
Bateman and Reynolds are undeniably funny, and it's easy to see why this movie would have been easy for the filmmakers to pitch -- great cast, tried-and-true plot device, and tons of hard-R humor. But despite the actors' talent and some big laughs that parents, especially, will appreciate, there's a fine line between raunchy and tasteless, and the plot veers into cringe-worthy toilet humor one too many times to stay consistently amusing.
Casting Reynolds as a hard-core womanizer and Bateman as the straight-edge family man is cliché, and it's clear that each could have played the other's original part with ease. That would have been a welcome switch, as Reynolds has heart and Bateman has edge, which they clearly prove in the moments that they're "themselves" in the other's body. While there's a somewhat touching message about self-reflection and appreciating what you have, the story gets bogged down in the formulaic gross-out humor. Reynolds' Mitch is too pathetically one-dimensional to even believe, and it's hard to feel sorry for Dave when he has an amazing job, a gorgeous wife (Leslie Mann), and a million-dollar mansion. That said, if you're in the mood for some blue comedy, you'll definitely get a kick out of Craig Bierko's hilarious cameo as a soft-porn director. Now there's an actor who deserves a leading comedy role.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie portrays sexuality. Which relationships are healthy, and which are unhealthy? How can you tell?
What about drinking and drug use? Are they shown realistically? What are some of the real-life consequences of getting drunk and smoking pot?
Dave envies Mitch's carefree life, but is Mitch as fulfilled as Dave? Is freedom from responsibility still as attractive in someone in their late 30s as it is in someone in their 20s? Why is growing up and starting a family depicted as boring?
- In theaters: August 5, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: November 8, 2011
- Cast: Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Ryan Reynolds
- Director: David Dobkin
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 112 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive strong crude sexual content and language, some graphic nudity and drug use
For kids who love to laugh
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.