Many people don’t realize this because The Change-Up was something of a flop upon its release in 2011, but the Ryan Reynolds/Jason Bateman body swap movie has actually developed an intense cult following since it was released for home viewers. There’s something about the idea of a parent switching lives — even only for a few days — with a single, good looking childless guy that really struck a nerve in the parenting community. The movie added another $20M in home market sales and those DVDs and Blu Rays have been circulating from one family to another for nearly three years. It is, after all, one of the rare R-rated body swap movies, and it is at times filthy in the purest Apatowian sense.
Capitalizing on the success of the movie in the home market, Universal finally released a Special Edition Blu Ray complete with director’s commentary last month, so for the first time, we’re finally learning about some of the behind-the-scenes drama on the film.
Here’s the 25 coolest things we found out from the commentary track, which featured stars Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Ryan Reynolds, and director David Dobkin.
1. The Change-Up had actually been in development for years, going through a number of rewrites with different directors attached. The script was originally pitched as the sequel to the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Danny Devito comedy Twins but it was put in turnaround when Arnie ascended to the governor’s mansion.
2. Once the film finally landed Dobkin as its director, it was envisioned as a film meant to reunite Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson after the success of The Wedding Crashers. Unfortunately, that plan was also scuttled after Wilson entered into treatment for depression following his alleged suicide attempt.
3. The film finally began to come together once Jason Bateman came aboard. Will Smith (his Hancock co-star) was originally asked to co-star, but he declined noting that he preferred to be the sole leading man in his movies. Ricky Schroeder was actually approached at one point, but Universal refused to cast him. Finally, Bateman settled on Ryan Reynolds, fresh off his success on The Proposal. Reynolds and Bateman had been close friends since appearing together in the 2006 film Smokin’ Aces.
4. Casting the female leads was next. In an ironic twist, Olivia Wilde auditioned for the role of Jason Bateman’s wife, while Leslie Mann auditioned for Ryan Reynolds’ love interest, and they were ultimately cast in each others’ part.
5. Interestingly, both actresses appear topless in the film, but in both cases, their breasts were enhanced by CGI.
6. It was the second movie in two years in which Leslie Mann had been cast in a body swap movie as the wife of one of the characters who swapped bodies (the other was 17 Again).
7. Additionally, Mann used a body double when she walked into the bathroom in slow motion to defecate.
8. The sound effects on The Change-Up were created by Gary Rydstrom, who also did the sound effects on Jurassic Park. Interestingly, he used the same exact effect from the Tyrannosaurus Rex sounds for the sound that Leslie Mann’s character makes when she evacuates her bowels in the film (that sound, by the way, is that of a dog eating wet dog food. It was merely turned way down to create the sound effect for Mann’s diarrhea).
9. Mann did 12 takes on the poop scene, and they weren’t able to get it exactly right until she actually took a poo.
10. Interestingly, the clip of Mann pooping on the toilet has been seen over 50,000 times, mostly by poo/sex fetishists.
11. The poop that the baby squirted into Bateman’s face was created with a combination of chocolate soft-serve ice cream and melted brown gummy bears (to ensure its stickiness).
12. Due to scheduling conflicts, Olivia Wilde was shot separately in a large number of her scenes. Body doubles were frequently used. Wilde didn’t actually meet Bateman until the final three days of filming.
13. The actress who played the pregnant woman that Ryan Reynolds’ character slept with was almost nine months pregnant when the shoot started. She gave birth to a beautiful baby boy less than a week after shooting her scenes. She named the baby Jason Ryan Monroe, after the two stars of The Change-Up.
14. Alan Arkin, who appears in the film as the father of Ryan Reynolds’ character, admitted in a 2013 interview that he had no idea what the movie was even about until he watched it on a plane. He noted, however, that it paid very well for very little work.
15. Judd Apatow, Leslie Mann’s husband, spent a great deal of time on the set, and actually provided several of the film’s best lines. Dobkin did have to ask him to leave the set on those days that Leslie Mann kissed Jason Bateman, because it interfered with her concentration.
16. During the fountain scene, where Bateman and Reynolds urinated into it at the same time (causing the body switch), Bateman and Reynolds ACTUALLY urinated into it. But CGI had to be added because their pee streams were too weak for the camera.
17. Bateman relayed in the commentary that the mother of one of the child actors in the movie was an absolute terror on the set. During a breakfast scene, she asked that her daughter not actually eat any of the food provided because she was trying to watch her weight due to an audition she had scheduled after the shot. The girl was eventually cast as the little sister in the Boy Meets World remake, Girl Meets World.
18. During the rehearsal process, Bateman and Reynolds actually traded lives for three days. It did cause some tension on the set of The Green Lantern, however, after Bateman showed up to do ADR for Reynolds character. Moreover, Reynolds — who has no kids — learned what it was like to raise children while living in Bateman’s home.
19. Bateman, in fact, took the role so seriously that, during those days in which he was playing Reynolds’ character, Mitch, he insisted that everyone on set refer to him as Ryan Reynolds.
20. Interestingly, Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson separated during filming on The Change-Up. In the commentary, Reynolds jokingly suggested that it was because he was acting so much like Bateman.
21. Before Reynolds and Johansson (who remain friends) separated, Johansson was enrolled to convince the members of AC/DC to get the rights to “Thunderstruck,” which was used in the movie. She convinced Malcolm and Angus Young to relinquish rights for a discount after performing a provocative dance to the song during their meeting in a bar.
22. Reynolds and Bateman, who remain friends, admitted that tensions ran high by the end of the shoot because each had become overly sensitive about the way the other had depicted their characters.
23. This scene, Bateman said, was taken directly from an exchange he had with his own real-life wife.
24. The end of the scene above, in which the baby was banging its head against its crib, was completely ad-libbed by the baby.
25. During the scene in which Olivia Wilde disrobes and mounts the character played by Ryan Reynolds, he admits on the commentary track that he was unable to prevent an erection. “I couldn’t help myself. She’s just so f***king hot,” he remarked.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Film School Rejects.