Ellen Seldman, the mother of a special needs child, has written a heartfelt post for Parents.com about the offensive language in The Change-Up. It isn’t the (constant) four-letter words or graphic sexual references she objects to. It is the crude references to Down Syndrome. “It contains a scene in which a character asks a dad whether his twins are ‘retarded’ because they’re not yet speaking, then adds ‘I don’t know, this one looks a little Downsy.’”
I agree with her that the language is very offensive (I noted the use of the “r-word” in my review). I think it is important to point out, however, that the movie is not making fun of special needs kids. It is making fun of the “normal” idiot who uses that language.
The Change-Up is a very raunchy, graphic, intentionally provocative comedy. But it is no more on the side of the use of that language than it is of the other irresponsible and disgusting behavior by the character, including exposing the babies to very dangerous items and advising the older child to beat up a bully. I was more offended by the use of the r-word by characters portrayed more approvingly in other recent movies I have seen, most recently “Our Idiot Brother.”
I appreciate Seldman’s support for the very important “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign. My first job was at a school for developmentally disabled children that had the r-word in its name. That was a long time ago, and as with other words we now understand to be unacceptable, this one should be recognized as offensive and inaccurate. Parents should make sure they never use the word, even jokingly, and make clear to their children that they will not tolerate it.