By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 2, 2011 at 10:57AM
The studios get freaked when a movie destined to be commercially mainstream plays better for adults. That's because it's in their interest to play better to dumb young males than to, say, smart older females who can't be counted on to show up on an opening weekend. That's why so many awful movies get made that leave me out of their target demo. This was one topic at Monday night's Universal premiere of The Change-Up (August 5, trailer below), which was better than I was expecting. Universal is nervous because the movie is tracking older and female. (Early reviews are trending rotten; here's Metacritic.)
It's not one of those awful stupid comedies. In his intro at the Mann Village, director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) praised the screenplay by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (The Hangover), saying it was the funniest he had ever read, and that no matter how difficult things got during production, he always went back to the script.
The movie works--despite its predictable Freaky Friday familiarity--because it's an even two-hander between two skilled and attractive comedic actors at the top of their game. Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds play a straight-arrow overachieving lawyer/family man and joint-toking Peter Pan actor/womanizer, respectively, who loudly wish they had each other's lives while peeing in a magic fountain. Switcheroo. The other standout is Leslie Mann (Knocked Up), who provides both the picture's beating heart and hottest nude scene (not, to the disappointment of some viewers, Olivia Wilde). Dobkin also thanked Mann's husband Judd Apatow, who has a production deal at Universal, for his help on the film.
God forbid word-of-mouth should sell a well-made movie. Universal could use some hits; even if The Change-Up doesn't open through the roof, this and Brett Ratner's upcoming Tower Heist may do the trick.
Sandra Bullock turned up with CAA's Kevin Huvane at the Hammer Museum after-party to lend support to buddy Reynolds (The Proposal). She was fresh from wrapping post-9/11-drama Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close with Tom Hanks, Kid Jeopardy winner Thomas Horn, John Goodman, producer Scott Rudin and director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours, The Reader) a few weeks ago--she doesn't like the title any more than the rest of us, but Eric Roth did adapt the multi-layered 2005 Jonathan Safran Foer bestseller (November 30). The film, which is a potential Oscar contender, will not be finished in time to make any of the fall festivals.
Bullock's been working with Alfonso Cuaron on Gravity, playing the only survivor of a space mission to repair the Hubble telescope who wants to get back to Earth--and her daughter. George Clooney co-stars.