Review: The Switch
Consistently funny but far from versatile, Jennifer Aniston may have met her male acting equivalent in fellow former sit-com star Jason Bateman. But while Aniston’s name may sit atop the movie poster for The Switch, make no mistake… this is Bateman’s movie.
It seems artificial insemination is “in” this year, and semen jokes are surely at an annual all-time high after the similarly themed The Kids Are All Right and The Back-Up Plan. The hook for The Switch takes place at an insemination party of all places. Yeah, I’d never heard of such a thing either but apparently it’s the place to be if you’re looking to impregnate a hot cougar like Jennifer Aniston. That’s where Bateman, sitting firmly inside Aniston’s “friend zone,” gets blackout wasted and makes the titular switch by swapping his seed with that of the pre-arranged donor, a complete toolbox played by Patrick Wilson.
Also at the party is Juliette Lewis as Aniston’s crass hippie friend, since apparently Judy Greer was already booked. Jeff Goldblum is his usual quippy self as Bateman’s mentor, because no rom-com lead should ever have to make an important decision without the help of a trustworthy relationship advisor.
Aniston disappears from Bateman’s picture for a while, opting not to raise her child in the heart of New York City. The movie skates by decently enough and the two leads play off one another rather nicely but things really pick up seven years later when Aniston returns to the city with her son, who looks like Bateman and shares many of his odd quirks. Bateman begins to spend time with this boy and quickly gains his trust, but the toughest and perhaps most drawn out trick is breaking the news of this switch to Aniston.
Bateman has always been great in his supporting roles (see: Juno, Up in the Air), but I had no idea he could carry a movie the way he does here. He delivers some of the most precious out-of-his-element fatherly moments since Jersey Girl or Big Daddy and handles the more tender moments with ease as well.
The youngster in question is an incredibly smart, yet odd whirlwind of a child played by Thomas Robinson. He’s funny, adorable and perfectly channels the neurotic tendencies of Bateman. Unless, of course, that’s how the kid actually behaves… in which case I truly feel for his parents.
I like Jennifer Aniston, but after recent atrocities like The Bounty Hunter and He’s Just Not That Into You she needed a movie like this if she was going to continue drawing my dollars. If there’s one good thing to be had out of The Bounty Hunter, it’s that anything she does from here on out will look good by comparison. She may have just backed her way into a decent career move with that one. I wanted to love The Switch but I’ll settle for liking it and even though she isn’t given a whole lot to do here, this is easily her best movie since The Break Up.
Bill O’Reilly accuses the movie of sending a foul message to young girls that you don’t need a man to raise a kid, but that’s not at all what I gathered from the movie. I took away from the film a warm understanding of the challenge of stepping into the role of fatherhood and the powerful influence of that father figure on the life of his child, be it biological or otherwise.
The Switch is being marketed as “from the people who brought you Juno and Little Miss Sunshine,” which would suggest it is anything but a conventional romantic comedy. That couldn’t be much farther from the truth, and those genre conventions are really the bane of its existence. Oh, and by “people,” we’re talking producers only here so don’t be fooled. The wrap is far too tidy and some of those proverbial revelatory rom-com speeches aren’t as effective as they should have been, but it’s just so freaking cute.
RIYL: Jersey Girl, Big Daddy, Fools Rush In