The Switch (2010)

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IMDb Rating
6.1 out of 10 (view IMDb page)

  • Not Rated Yet
(Based on 0 Ratings)
MPAA Rating:
PG-13 for mature thematic content, sexual material including dialogue, some nudity, drug use and lan
Comedy, Drama, Romance
Josh Gordon
Will Speck
Allan Loeb (screenplay)
Jeffrey Eugenides (short story)

Weekly Volcano's Review

Rev. Adam McKinney on August 18th, 2010

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Wally and Kassie (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston) have been best friends for a very long time. Their conversations are snappy and intuitive and slightly antagonistic — the way many conversations between best friends are. He relates to her the way many men relate to their female best friends: he is subtly passive-aggressive and constantly critical of her choice in men. She either never notices or prefers to let it slide for the sake of the relationship.

Kassie, somewhere in her thirties, comes to Wally and tells him that she wants to eschew the process of finding a man, and would instead like to be artificially inseminated. He balks and tells her this is a profoundly bad idea, but her mind is made up.

The first few scenes we see of Wally in The Switch involve him getting very drunk and doing jerky things. This behavior reaches a peak at Kassie’s “insemination party” — a soiree held in honor of the donation of a pretty man’s seed. This donor is to provide the requisite material live in the bathroom of the party. Ick.

Wally eats his feelings and gets bombed.

Wally, at one point during the party, makes his way to the bathroom and discovers the still-unutilized jar of semen, starts playing around with it, and accidentally spills it down the drain. Seeing as he’s wasted beyond belief, he decides the best course of action is to replace what he has lost.

After that scene, I giggled to myself as I fantasized a movie in which Jason Bateman gets drunk, accidentally impregnates Jennifer Aniston, and then the film abandons the wacky setup and devotes the rest of the running time to Bateman’s alcohol rehabilitation.

But no matter.

Seven years later, Kassie returns to Wally’s life after a stint in Montana or Wisconsin or wherever. She brings with her a 6-year-old child who (By George!) happens to share some of Wally’s personality quirks.

This is a well-meaning film that just doesn’t quite work. While the screenplay is admirably realistic in its opening scenes, it eventually abandons characters and dialogue for romantic comedy cliché.

Jason Bateman, in particular, creates a strong, plausible character in those early scenes. He’s neurotic, talkative, sarcastic, and always gives off the impression he’s the smartest person in the room. He drinks a little too much, is possibly unaware of his feelings toward Kassie, and a running gag emerges about his inability to dress himself. But it’s no wonder that Kassie would find herself so attached to him.

Jeff Goldblum solidifies his status as the Most Charming Man in the World, as Wally’s guy friend. He’s basically reprising his role from Nine Months, as the free-wheeling bachelor best friend of the guy being confronted with adulthood. But man, when he smirks and stutters and says the funniest thing in any given moment… Wally doesn’t know what he has.

The Switch is based on a short story, the remnants of which exist in stilted, shockingly inappropriate narration provided by Wally. He talks of Man’s inability to coexist with Man, blah blah blah, and it immediately gives off the impression that it would’ve either worked on the page or not at all.

It must be said that Sebastian, Wally’s child, as played by Thomas Robinson, is a delight. His big, sad eyes and frequent self-diagnoses (due to his obsession with WebMD) are enough to melt the coldest of hearts. Sebastian has an instant, cosmic connection to Wally, and the progression of their relationship feels real and unforced. Even in a scene where Sebastian is required to perform the old cliché of a child giving a grown-up a present to cheer them up, Wally’s puffy red eyes speak louder than any single tear would.

You know what you’re getting into with a movie like this. It helps that there are some moments of inspiration here and there, but in the end it’s a goddamn rom-com. That’s it. For what it’s worth, it’s probably the best performance Jennifer Aniston has given in quite a while (in an oddly small role), but when the music swells, she just needs to say that line that everyone and their mother can see coming.

This is a movie that swings and misses. But, these days, I’m simply glad it swung at all. - Two and a half stars

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