Directors: Josh Gordon & Will Speck (Blades of Glory)
Screenplay: Allan Loeb, Jeffrey Eugenides (short story)
Producers: Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis, Patrick Wilson, Thomas Robinson
MPAA Rating: PG13
Running time: 100 min.
The problem with The Switch isn’t the movie itself (though it too has its misses) but the marketing. Yes, it’s difficult to sell a dramedy to the male population at large but to sell it as a romantic comedy is disappointing, especially when it features a great performance from the male lead. Perhaps it will work to the film’s benefit and women will see it with their girlfriends, like it and drag the men or heck, date night might be lady’s choice but however you cut it, this film is unlikely to reach the audience who will appreciate it most: new dads.
Directed by the duo who brought us the travesty that is Blades of Glory, The Switch is a completely different ballgame, one that feels like the duo traded themselves in for someone who actually knows what they’re doing.
Based on a short story by Jeffrey Eugenides, it’s the drama of a woman (Jennifer Aniston) who wants a child so badly, she decides to find herself a donor. Her best friend Wally (Jason Bateman), a one time romantic interest who is too much of a realist to be Kassie’s boyfriend but who makes for perfect friend material, is against the idea but shows up to the “I’m getting pregnant” party to support the woman he secretly loves. A series of lightly amusing events later, we learn that Kassie’s pregnant, moving away to raise her son outside of New York and just like that, seven years go by. With a new job lined up, Kassie moves back to the Big Apple, reunites with Wally and the seed donor and then things get complicated.
The Switch isn’t much of a comedy. It’s also not much of a romance. Sure, it’s bookended by romance and features a comedy of errors in the first 20 minutes with bits of dry humour peppered throughout, all care of Bateman whose delivery is outstanding, the best part of this film is the relationship between father and son. Seeing Bateman and Thomas Robinson develop a relationship and seeing how Bateman’s character grows, matures and is changed by the events that transpire is the real heart of this picture and it’s too bad the movie even bothers with the romance – it’s unnecessary and a distraction from what works.
Not having read the original story, I’m not sure how much of this film is taken from the source and how much is new addition but there’s a definite disconnect with this script; we have some quick, poignant dialogue which raises this above your standard Hollywood fare but it’s crammed into an unworthy vessel of a story. Thankfully there’s Bateman, with the help of Juliette Lewis and Jeff Goldblum in supporting roles, to make it work while Aniston simply floats through, managing to be likeable but unmemorable. Patrick Wilson isn’t given a whole lot to do but there’s something creepy about his look and demeanour that instantly pegs him as a guy you don’t want to date, regardless of how handsome and smart he is. Subtle acting or stroke of luck? I’m not sure but either way but he’s fun to watch.
It doesn’t always work but The Switch is entertaining. The voiceovers are saccharin and the romance doesn’t really work but there is a little gem of emotion at its core which salvages an otherwise forgettable film.
Perhaps it’s the but the film also passes the husband test. His rating: approved.
Click “play” to see the trailer:
Flixster Profile for The Switch