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Bateman Switches Bodies With Slacker; Kesey’s Acid Trip: Movies

Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman in "The Change-Up." Source: Universal Studios via Bloomberg

Aug. 4 (Bloomberg) -- After boozing all night, best friends Dave and Mitch stop by an Atlanta wishing fountain and bemoan their lives.

Dave, a married workaholic lawyer with three kids, envies Mitch’s carefree existence as a single slacker and womanizer. Mitch, a failed actor who acts like he’s living in a college dorm, covets Dave’s success and family.

The next morning, their idle talk turns into reality when they each wake up in the other guy’s body.

Too many bath and bedroom jokes end up spoiling “The Change-Up,” a retread with a few new twists and likable performances by Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds.

Mitch (Reynolds) must negotiate a crucial merger for Dave’s law firm, learn to change diapers and control himself around Dave’s beautiful wife (Leslie Mann) and a sexy office assistant Sabrina (Olivia Wilde).

Dave (Bateman) fills Mitch’s role in a soft-core porn film, entertains his buddy’s wild, extremely pregnant sex kitten Tatiana (Mircea Monroe) and deals with Mitch’s oft-married dad (Alan Arkin), who wants his son to attend his upcoming wedding.

Unsurprisingly, things don’t go smoothly in this comedy directed by David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”) and co-written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (“The Hangover”). That is, until the pat ending that seems transplanted from another movie.

“The Change-Up,” from Universal Pictures, opens tomorrow across the U.S. Rating: **1/2

‘Magic Trip’

In 1964, novelist Ken Kesey and a group of friends known as the Merry Pranksters took a cross-country, psychedelic bus trip from California to the World’s Fair in New York.

They filmed the experience for a movie that was never finished. Now filmmakers Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood have used the long-forgotten footage to make “Magic Trip,” a nostalgic documentary about an event that became a counterculture legend.

Almost nothing interesting happens in the film, unless you count amphetamine-fueled Neal Cassady babbling incoherently behind the steering wheel of the rainbow-painted bus, the Pranksters pretending to campaign for Barry Goldwater in Arizona or swimming at a blacks-only beach in New Orleans.

The most entertaining thing about the Pranksters was their nicknames: Generally Famished, Mal Function, Stark Naked and Gretchen Fetchen, among them.

Back then, they all aspired to a higher consciousness. In retrospect, the trip looks like a big inside joke.

“Magic Trip,” from Magnolia Pictures, opens tomorrow in New York and San Francisco. Rating: **


What the Stars Mean:

****          Excellent
***           Good
**            Average
*             Poor
(No stars)    Worthless

(Rick Warner is the movie critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Rick Warner in New York at rwarner1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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