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It is a sad state of romantic comedies when one classified as sweet but forgettable ranks amongst the upper tier of the genre for the year. Surprisingly, The Switch is more dramatic than comedic. Most of the jokes are so low key you forget that you are supposed to be laughing. Thankfully, as was the same with another unfunny comedy this year — She’s Out of My League — strong performances and a tender heart can almost save the day from the doldrums.
The Switch is being sold as just another Jennifer Aniston rom-com, but in reality the broad comedic concept is merely a framework for what becomes a nice buddy comedy of sorts. She takes the back seat to the eventual relationship between Jason Bateman’s Wally and Kassie’s (Aniston) young son in the film. But I digress, this all comes about after Wally, in a right drunken state, switches her sperm donor’s sample with his own genetic material. We can then fast forward seven years when Kassie returns to town and Wally can’t help but notice a few similarities between himself and the tot.
Coming off the horrendous The Bounty Hunter, Aniston recaptures some of the charm that made her a star in Friends. This is her most nuanced and believable role in years and likely her best since Friends With Money. Bateman isn’t given much to work with but he too makes the best of the material but seems more sedated than usual. Based on the concept, I actually wished there was more of a wacky feel to the movie, and Bateman would have been an even better fit for that film.
Stealing all their respective scenes are three actors: Jeff Goldblum as Wally’s friend, Patrick Wilson as Kassie’s donor and finally child actor Thomas Robinson. Robinson avoids all the pitfalls of young stars, delivering his lines believably, not wallowing in cuteness and playing well off of Bateman.
Strangely, this is the second movie about artificial insemination this year, The Back-up Plan with another Jennifer (that time Lopez) was the first, I certainly hope this is not a sub-genre that finds a home. Or if it does, hopefully filmmakers can find somewhere more interesting to take the story. The Switch is directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck who directed the Will Ferrel comedy Blades of Glory in 2007. When looking at the outlandishness of that film one would expect a similar tone considering the subject matter, but as I said that is not the case here. I will not even get into the horrendously immoral and likely illegal act of tampering with someone’s pregnancy.
There was nothing offensive, nothing memorable, nothing awful but nothing great about The Switch; it is simply there to amuse you and your date for a few hours, only to leave the theater and move on without pause. There is a great movie buried somewhere in this rom-com’s depths, but as is with most movies this year, greatness seems to easily allude Hollywood.
Directed by: Josh Gordon and Will Speck
Written by: Allen Loeb and Jeffrey Eugenides
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Wilson