The first five minutes of The Change-Up—a horrifying look into the world of late-night baby care complete with one of the more grotesque poop-to-face shots ever captured on film—sums up the movie's bait-and-switch. In most comedies this scene would be the first step towards a descent into hell that only Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Adam Sandler are capable of realizing. In The Change-Up it's a sequence that sets the bar as low as artistically possible so stars Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds can obliterate expectations with equally raunchy shocking and hilarious comedic stylings. Simply put The Change-Up is the funniest movie of the year.
Bateman plays Dave Lockwood a run-of-the-mill lawyer who works too hard juggles his parenting duties and struggles to find time to tell his wife he loves her. Dave's best friend Mitch (Reynolds) couldn't be more of the opposite—sleeping all day and spending his conscious hours wooing sexual partners while stoned out of his mind. The two are polar opposites making them the perfect candidates for a little bit of switcheroo magic. One particularly devastating night of alcohol and lamenting life's woes ends with the duo taking a leak into a magical fountain (go with it). Fate of course intervenes and when Dave and Mitch wake up they find themselves trapped in the one another's bodies.
There's no denying The Change-Up follows the Freaky Friday formula—but that's not a fault. The logic is already established giving Bateman Reynolds and director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) freedom to jump right into the crass humor hook. Bateman who's becoming a go-to straight man in Hollywood finds a refreshing opportunity in inhabiting Reynold's Mitch. The character's lack of self-censorship opens the floodgates for Bateman to poetically surface some of the English language's more horrendous sentences. A slang dictionary may be required to understand what bizarre body part synonyms are being dropped at rapid pace in this movie. Whether you comprehended them or not when they come out of Bateman's mouth they're priceless.
Same goes for Reynolds who escapes the box of fast-talking womanizer to play the uncomfortable family man. Judging an actor's versatility on a scene in which he's unwillingly placed at the center of a "lorno" (read: low-budget soft core pornography) may seem twisted but Reynolds sells it and makes it perfectly agonizing. Even obvious scenarios like "uh oh Dave's going to have to cheat on his wife in Mitch's body!" are twisted once twice three times over to pull the rug from under you.
The biggest surprise of The Change-Up is the movie's heart. Pummeling an audience with jokes is one thing but to sell genuine relationships underneath it makes it satisfying. The wavering friendship between the two lead knuckleheads is tangible and keeps an impossible plot device grounded while Leslie Mann (Knocked Up Funny People) as Dave's wife Jamie has her fair share of tender moments (as well as devilish laughs—there's a reason her husband Judd Apatow keeps casting her). In a movie that's constructed by textbook rules to have an ending that resonates with any sort of emotion is as surprising as watching a grown man toss a baby down next to a set of steak knives. Which coincidentally also happens in the movie.
In today's world where anything goes it's hard to whip up slapstick and one-liners that feel edgy and that leave your jaw on the floor. That's how The Change-Up hits—and it hits hard.
The nominations for the 2004 IFP Independent Spirit Awards are in, and with more submissions than ever before in the ceremony's history, it looks like a hot race.
Jeff Kleeman, IFP committee chair, had this to say: "With more submissions and less time then ever before, the Nominating Committee watched and discussed over 190 films in six weeks -- an act of extreme devotion that proved to be tremendously rewarding."
Dawn Hudson, IFP executive producer, added that this year's batch of nominees is particularly diverse, and commended the fact there are more highly talented women writers and directors emerging on the independent film scene, including nominees Shari Springer Berman, Sofia Coppola and Catherine Hardwicke.
Films that have been nominated for IFP Independent Spirit Awards were selected based on their original and provocative subject matter, uniqueness of vision, and financial characteristics, including total budget, individual compensation, and percentage of independent financing.
Last year's ISA winners included the film Far From Heaven (best feature), Julianne Moore (best director and lead actress), and Dennis Quaid (best supporting actor).
The 2004 IFP Independent Spirit Awards ceremony will air live on Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. EST on the Independent Film Channel, and will be broadcast at 10 p.m. EST/PST on Bravo.
The nominees for the 2004 IFP Independent Spirit Awards are (by category):
Lost in Translation
Raising Victor Vargas
Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini - American Splendor
Sofia Coppola - Lost in Translation
Jim Sheridan - In America
Peter Sollett - Raising Victor Vargas
Gus Van Sant - Elephant
American Splendor - Writers: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini
Lost in Translation - Writer: Sofia Coppola
A Mighty Wind - Writers: Christopher Guest & Eugene Levy and the cast of A Mighty Wind
Pieces of April - Writer: Peter Hedges
Shattered Glass - Writer: Billy Ray
Best First Feature
Bomb the System - Director: Adam Bhala Lough; Producers: Ben Rekhi, Sol Tryon
House of Sand and Fog - Director: Vadim Perelman; Producers: Michael London, Vadim Perelman
Monster - Director: Patty Jenkins; Producers: Mark Damon, Donald Kushner, Clark Peterson, Charlize Theron, Brad Wyman
Quattro Noza - Director: Joey Curtis; Producer: Fredric King
Thirteen - Director: Catherine Hardwicke; Producers: Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Michael London
John Cassavetes Award
Anne B. Real - Director: Lisa France; Writers: Lisa France, Antonio Macia, Producers: Josselyne Herman, Luis Moro, Jeanine Rohn
Better Luck Tomorrow - Director: Justin Lin; Writers: Ernesto M. Foronda, Justin Lin, Fabian Marquez; Producers: Julie Asato, Ernesto M. Foronda, Justin Lin
Pieces of April - Writer/Director: Peter Hedges; Producers: Alexis Alexanian, John S. Lyons, Gary Winick
The Station Agent - Writer/Director: Thomas McCarthy; Producers: Mary Jane Skalski, Robert May, Kathryn Tucker
Virgin - Writer/Director: Deborah Kampmeier; Producer:Sarah Schenck
Best First Screenplay
Blue Car- Writer: Karen Moncrieff
Monster - Writer: Patty Jenkins
Raising Victor Vargas - Writers: Peter Sollett and Eva Vives
The Station Agent - Writer: Thomas McCarthy
Thirteen - Writers: Catherine Hardwicke & Nikki Reed
Best Female Lead
Agnes Bruckner - Blue Car
Zooey Deschanel - All the Real Girls
Samantha Morton - In America
Elisabeth Moss - Virgin
Charlize Theron - Monster
Best Male Lead
Peter Dinklage - The Station Agent
Paul Giamatti - American Splendor
Sir Ben Kingsley - House of Sand and Fog
Bill Murray - Lost in Translation
Lee Pace - Soldier's Girl
Best Supporting Female
Shohreh Aghdashloo - House of Sand and Fog
Sarah Bolger - In America
Patricia Clarkson - Pieces of April
Hope Davis - The Secret Lives of Dentists
Frances McDormand - Laurel Canyon
Best Supporting Male
Judah Friedlander - American Splendor
Troy Garity - Soldier's Girl
Djimon Hounsou - In America
Alessandro Nivola - Laurel Canyon
Peter Sarsgaard - Shattered Glass
Best Debut Performance
Anna Kendrick - Camp
Judy Marte - Raising Victor Vargas
Victor Rasuk - Raising Victor Vargas
Nikki Reed - Thirteen
Janice Richardson - Anne B. Real
Elephant - Harris Savides
In America - Declan Quinn
Northfork - M. David Mullen
Quattro Noza - Derek Cianfrance
Shattered Glass - Mandy Walker
Best Foreign Film
City of God (Brazil)
Lilya 4-Ever (Denmark)
The Magdalene Sisters (England/Ireland)
The Triplets of Belleville (France)
Whale Rider (New Zealand)
The Fog of War
Mayor of the Sunset Strip
OT: our town
Top Story: Studio To Re-Release Extended Rings Editions
New Line Cinema announced it will re-release extended versions of the first two Lord of the Rings movies worldwide just two weeks before the Dec. 17 release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Variety reports the studio plans to release the 208-minute long Fellowship of the Ring Dec. 5 on 100-150 screens in the top 10 U.S. markets, with one cinema in other cities showing the special extended editions. The 214-minute long The Two Towers, meanwhile, will unspool in theaters the week of Dec. 12, leading up to a worldwide daylong marathon Dec. 16, during which all three films will be shown back-to-back. Exhibitor guidelines call for a 3 p.m. showing of Fellowship, followed by a 7 p.m. screening of Two Towers and then an 11 p.m. screening of Return of the King which will carry over into Dec. 17 -- the day of its global release. Advanced ticket sales are scheduled to begin in late September or early October on exhibitor Web sites and movie ticketing sites.
Ex-Staff Sue Robert Redford Over Settlement
Two former officers in actor Robert Redford's Catalyst Film Works filed a lawsuit against the actor Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming he failed to finish paying them an agreed-upon $750,000 settlement. According to Reuters, Jeff Kleeman and Eric Greenfeld say Redford did not adhere to an October 2001, settlement agreement, which ended an earlier legal dispute. According to the suit, the settlement called for Redford to pay Kleeman and Greenfeld $250,000 upon signing the agreement, $200,000 a year later, $175,000 this October, and $125,000 on Oct. 1, 2004. Redford made the first payment 10 months late and missed the second payment's Oct. 1, 2002, deadline, according to the lawsuit. They are asking that Redford honor the first two payments plus interest, and pay their legal fees plus unspecified relief.
Mexican Actor Arrested After Fatal Action Scene
Mexican actor Flavio Peniche was arrested on suspicion of homicide after shooting and killing a colleague during the filming of an action scene with what he thought was a prop gun. According to The Associated Press, the incident occurred Saturday during filming of a low-budget movie, Juana The Scorpion, at a hotel in Cuernavaca, the capital of Morelos state, just south of Mexico City. "I was handed the prop gun, and did the scene as I was instructed," Peniche told the AP. "When I saw the blood come from his chest, at first I though it was fake blood." When he realized what had happened, Peniche said he called for help and tried to stop the bleeding on actor Antonio Velasco, 42, who died later at a Cuernavaca hospital. Peniche has been released on $40,000 bail and could face a prison sentence of 8 to 20 years if convicted.
Rap Mogul Gotti a No-Show in Court
Rap mogul Irv Gotti, the CEO of Murder Inc. Records, was a no-show in court for his arraignment on a misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance, the AP reports. Gotti was arrested Aug. 15 after passing through a metal detector at the Oakland Arena in Calif. He had taken some items from his pants pocket and put them into a tray when an Oakland police officer noticed a small clear plastic bag containing some pills. According to police, Gotti, tried to put the bag, which contained one Ecstasy pill and Viagra, back in his pocket before the officer stopped him. Gotti posted $20,000 bail and was told to appear Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court. His attorney, Dennis Roberts, had said he would appear on his client's behalf because Gotti lives in New York.
Clay's Album Hits Record Stores Before Ruben's
American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken's album will arrive in record stores about a month before that of winner Ruben Studdard's Soulful. Aiken's still untitled album will hit stores on Oct. 14 while Studdard's album, on which he is still working, will arrive Nov. 11. "He got his album done fairly quickly; with me, I had my own press junket, so studio time was very limited," Studdard told the AP Thursday. "It [doesn't] make sense for Clay to have his album chillin' when he could just do his thing," he said. Aiken's first single, "This Is the Night," sold more copies than Studdard's "Flying Without Wings" when both songs were released in June.
Jamie Lee Curtis Discusses Plastic Surgery
Actress Jamie Lee Curtis says plastic surgery is not necessarily the answer for women who want to change their appearance. In the Sept. 1 issue of People magazine, the Freaky Friday star does not specifically state what surgery she's had, but says she did all of it in attempting to stave off aging. "It made me look worse and feel worse," the 44-year-old actress notes. "What they say works doesn't." The issue also includes Roseanne Barr, Sharon Osbourne and Dolly Parton discussing the work they have had done.
Billy Crystal to Pen Children's Books
Comedian Billy Crystal, best known for his roles in When Harry Met Sally... and City Slickers, is the latest celeb to try his hand at children's books. Crystal, who voiced the one-eyed creature Mike Wazowski in Monsters, Inc., is set to release two new children's bedtime books that will focus on the relationship between grandchildren and their grandparents. HarperCollins Children's Books will publish the books, the first of which is titled I Already Know I Love You, due to be published in April next year.