‘R-Word’ In Movie ‘The Change-Up’ Draws Criticism
A scene in the new film “The Change-Up” is taking heat from disability advocates who charge that Hollywood is once again culling laughs at the expense of people with special needs.
The movie, which opened last Friday, focuses on two friends, played by Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, with very different lives who change bodies.
In one exchange early in the movie, Reynolds’ character asks Bateman’s character about his young twins. “Why can’t they talk yet? Are they retarded or something?” he says.
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Reynolds follows up with, “the one on the left looks a little Downsy.”
Now, the film which has received poor reviews and had a weak showing during its opening weekend at the box office, is also taking a hit from those in the disability community on blogs and social networking sites.
“Some in Hollywood just don’t seem to get it. This kind of language is hurtful to so many who sit in the theaters thinking they are in store for entertainment, not insult,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.
Meanwhile, Special Olympics is calling for an apology from Universal Pictures, the studio behind the film.
“People with intellectual and developmental disabilities deserve the same respect of their human dignity as everyone else in our society,” reads a statement from the organization, which sponsors the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign to end use of the word “retarded.”
“It’s time for this to stop,” the group said.
The issue comes three years after disability advocates came out in full force against another comedy — “Tropic Thunder” — for repeatedly using the word “retard.” Protests led that movie’s studio to alter some of the film’s promotion.
Representatives from Universal Pictures, however, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about “The Change-Up.”