Old 08-25-2010, 11:45 AM
Josh Gordon's and Will Speck's The Switch

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:



The Switch (2010)

Throughout "The Switch," I had one question in the back of my mind: "Why did this movie get made?" It's true that this is a question I ask every time a romantic-comedy comes along that follows the exact same formula as the previous one, but it's really as though they are just not trying all that hard anymore.

This time around, the story revolves around Wally Mars (Jason Bateman) and his best friend, Kassie Larson (Jennifer Aniston). Kassie feels that now would be the right time to have a baby, and since she doesn't have a relationship of that type in her life, she decides to get artificially inseminated using donor sperm. Wally continually tries to talk her out of it, but her mind is made up. The donor ends up being a man named Roland (Patrick Wilson), or at least that was the original plan.

During her insemination party, Wally gets awfully drunk and finds Roland's "donation" in the bathroom. A slight accident results in the dropping of the sperm down the drain of the sink, so Wally replaces it the only way he can think of, with his own.

Seven years later, Kassie moves back to New York, where Wally lives, after having been away to raise her child, Sebastian (Thomas Robinson). Her original thinking was that New York would not be the best place to raise a child, but something just happens to draw her back to the city. To Wally's surprise, Sebastian is exactly like him, having all of his mannerisms and eccentricities. As Wally and Sebastian get to know each other, a special bond is formed, leaving the question: Will he ever be able to tell Kassie the truth?

This truth and her relationship with Roland are the two things that stand in the way of their being happy together, and of course there are the obligatory scenes where they don't realize they like each other as much as they do, you know, like every other romantic-comedy out there. Then we get those scenes where it seems as though they might not end up together. At the risk of giving something away, you also know that this is not the way things will stay.

I never have understood the "charm" of Jennifer Anniston. She seems to be on autopilot as much as the film is. She gives the proper reactions when she needs to: the fear and worry over having a child on her own, the feigned happiness while saying she's perfectly happy with the way her life is going, and the anger at finding out what Wally did that night at her party (like you didn't know that was going to happen either...).

The one thing that gets this movie as far as it does is the charm of Jason Bateman, who you may remember from some much better films as "Juno," "Hancock," and "Up in the Air." He gives the film some slight emotional punch (more like a soft jab) as he gets to know his kid and bond with him. If it hadn't been for him, this film would have probably been completely intolerable because of the insistence of the filmmakers on sticking to the tired formula.

The lazy screenplay was written by Allan Loeb, based on a short story by Jeffrey Eugenides, and it shows. This might have worked better as a television episode or a short film, but as a feature, it's merely another one of those overly-long films where the audience must wait around in silence for the same conclusion we've seen countless times. 2/4 stars.
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