Collider Goes to the Set of THE CHANGE-UP

     May 31, 2011


Several years ago, Georgia passed legislation promoting generous tax incentives to studios and producers, and as a result the filmmaking industry in the state has been booming.  Films shot here include Zombieland, The Crazies, Fast Five, Hall Pass, and the upcoming R-rated comedy The Change-Up.  This past January, I traveled to Powder Springs, GA with some fellow movie bloggers to visit the set of the film.  While director David Dobkin made a slight detour in 2007 with the family film Fred Claus, what I saw on the set convinced me that The Change-Up is going to be the worthy successor to Dobkin’s smash 2005 comedy Wedding Crashers.  The movie is an R-rated take on the classic body-switching premise that was best used in Freaky Friday. The interplay between stars Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds looked terrific, we saw some great jokes that had us struggling to suppress laughter so we could be quiet on the set, and as someone who has spent most of his life in Atlanta, I was pleased to learn that my hometown will actually be in the film as Atlanta.

Hit the jump for to read about my visit to the set of the film (and don’t worry—I’m not going to spoil any of the jokes).  The Change-Up opens August 5th.

the-change-up-movie-poster-01For those who don’t know the plot of the film, here’s the  red-band trailer and synopsis:

Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman star in The Change-Up, from director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers), writers Jon Lucas & Scott Moore (The Hangover) and producer Neal Moritz (Fast & Furious, Click).  The R-rated comedy takes the traditional body-switching movie, stuffs it in a sack, and throws it off a cliff.

Growing up together, Mitch (Reynolds) and Dave (Bateman) were inseparable best friends, but as the years have passed they’ve slowly drifted apart.  While Dave is an overworked lawyer, husband and father of three, Mitch has remained a single, quasi-employed man-child who has never met a responsibility he liked.  To Mitch, Dave has it all: beautiful wife Jamie (Leslie Mann), kids who adore him and a high-paying job at a prestigious law firm.  To Dave, living Mitch’s stress free life without obligation or consequence would be a dream come true.

Following a drunken night out together, Mitch and Dave’s worlds are turned upside down when they wake up in each other’s bodies and proceed to freak the &*#@ out.

Despite the freedom from their normal routines and habits, the guys soon discover that each other’s lives are nowhere near as rosy as they once seemed.  Further complicating matters are Dave’s sexy legal associate, Sabrina (Olivia Wilde), and Mitch’s estranged father (Alan Arkin).  With time not on their side, Mitch and Dave comically struggle to avoid completely destroying each other’s lives before they can find a way to get their old ones back.


When we first arrived on set, I spoke with the unit publicist about how the production had filmed at Turner Field, the baseball stadium for the Atlanta Braves.  While the film takes place during the summer, the movie was being shot in the winter and apparently the cast along with the hapless extras had to wear short sleeves and standard baseball-fan attire.  However, the Braves were greeted by a welcome sight when one of the team’s retired legends came on to the field.  I won’t say who but Braves fans will be happy to see him back in uniform.

After chatting with the publicist, we went inside a giant warehouse to put on some headphones and watch some of the filming through a monitor.  The scene had Reynolds repeatedly entering the door of Dave’s home and greeting Dave’s wife (Leslie Mann who we unfortunately didn’t get to interview) with various crude remarks about his recent haircut and how nice Leslie smells.  What you may not know about Reynolds is that he went into Hollywood as an improv actor and his ad-libbing skills are still razor sharp.  I’m not sure which line they’ll use but they were all terrific.


We then went to a different part of the set away where they were filming in order to interview executive producer Ori Marmur and co-writer Jon Lucas.

Once our interviews with Marmur and Lucas were over, we returned to the set to once again see Reynolds delivering different lines but with the same overall effect.  This time he was crassly telling Dave’s young daughter that he had absolutely no intent of attending her dance recital.  Again, Dobkin has his pick of wonderful takes to choose from and I hope that they include all of the alternate takes on the DVD.

Then we move back to the interview room (which was actually a set that is used at some point in the film, but describing the set would actually give away one of the jokes) and sat down with Reynolds and Bateman.  It was a really fun interview and if the rapport the two have off-screen goes on-screen, audiences are going to respond in a big way. Click here to read the full interview.


We then took a tour of the various sets.  We walked around Dave’s house and while sometimes walking the set takes the magic out of movies, it also creates a better appreciation of the amount of hard work that goes into every film.  You can say “Oh, an art director designed a suburban home.  Good on him/her.”  But think of everything that goes into a home.  Think of the family photographs, how many pieces of furniture belong in each room, the toys strewn about the kids’ room, and every detail that most audiences will never notice but are absolutely crucial in designing a convincing home.

From Dave’s house, we walked across the warehouse, and arrived at Dave’s law office.  While not as interesting as Dave’s home, I still enjoyed flipping through the fake legal documents and seeing that real stuff was written on the page as opposed to some meaningless Lorem ipsum text.

But the real highlight among the various sets we visited was Mitch’s apartment.  You could tell that the art department just went nuts and had a grand time filling the room with fun stuff.  The walls were filled with work of Atlanta artists, there was a Xevious arcade machines, swords on the wall, plenty of bottles of booze, boxes for Savage Pizza (another reference Atlanta folks will smile at), a bong on the table, hulk hands, and it was an absolute blast hanging out in that fake man-cave.


After our tour of the sets, we returned to the monitors to watch some more filming.  Dave and Mitch are in Dave’s kitchen talking about their high school days (Mitch mentions Druid Hills High School, which is a real school) and Mitch makes more crude remarks, this time about their old social studies teacher.  After watching all of these scenes with Reynolds (and all of these scenes came before Mitch and Dave switch bodies) have him saying really foul things but when you have an actor as absolutely charming as Reynolds, you can make him say those things at it works beautifully.

And since Mitch and Dave switch personalities, I couldn’t wait to see how a comic actor as talented as Bateman handled the Mitch personality.  Remember, Bateman is best known for his straight-man roles and his sly, cutting comments, but he has absolutely stolen movies like State of Play and Smokin Aces when he plays an outlandish, disgusting character.


Dobkin then sat down with us and talked to us about the movie.  We spoke about what attracted him to the project, how Reynolds and Bateman came on board, his association with bromance flicks, and much more.

We then moved back to the monitors, watched a few more takes, and then Dobkin showed us some of the complete scenes.  My suspicions about Bateman nailing the Mitch-side of the role were confirmed (even the way he holds his fork is inspired) and then we saw a scene where a joke uses a particular word that I’m pretty sure will enter the lexicon once the film opens.

Final Thoughts:

This is a competitive summer for R-rated comedies.  The Hangover opened the floodgates and we’re now seeing the results.  But I’ll tell you this: a couple weeks ago, I paid to see Bridesmaids again and naturally a bunch of trailers for other R-rated comedies were attached.  We were shown trailers for Horrible Bosses, Friends with Benefits, and The Change-Up and of those three, the one the audience laughed the hardest at was The Change-Up.  I don’t think they’ll be disappointed.

The Change-Up opens August 5th.  For more The Change-Up coverage:

Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds On Set Interview

Director David Dobkin On Set Interview THE CHANGE-UP

Co-Writer Jon Lucas On Set Interview THE CHANGE-UP

Latest News