Switch, The

Rating:

Ick.

Main Cast: Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum

Directors: Josh Gordon, Will Speck

Even though he always plays essentially the same role, I love Jason Bateman.  He has the beleaguered underdog down to a fine science and I generally find it charming and entertaining.  He plays it again, with a twist of neurosis, in The Switch.

Bateman stars as Wally, financial something-or-other in New York City.  His best friend, Kassie (Jennifer Aniston), puts up with his hypochondria, self absorption, fear of change and general nerdiness.  He’s funny and cute and they have a brief romantic history.  When she announces that, after a string of failed relationships, she is going to have a baby on her own, Wally cannot stop himself from fretting over the general awfulness of such a scheme and sharing those feelings freely.  When he finds himself very drunk at her insemination party (yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like) he switches her chosen donor’s sperm with his own.  Poignancy and hilarity ensue.

First of all…gross.  The Switch could be filled with touching and funny and dramatic scenes but the basic premise is just vulgar.  Watching poor Bateman have to act out the scene in which the actual switch takes place is just painful.  Unlike proudly raunchy comedy a la Judd Apatow or American Pie, this is just ill-conceived (pun fully intended) foulness.  Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck miss their comedy mark by a wide margin.

The Switch also isn’t filled with funny, dramatic and touching scenes.  There’s a little bit of all of those things and in another situation they would be enough to get a good rating compared to other romantic comedy.  Bateman really is pretty lovably neurotic, sweetly annoying and filled with self-doubt and odd habits.  Aniston is her usual self – pretty and exasperated.  The shining star is the child produced by this trauma of a conception – Sebastian (Thomas Robinson).  He’s adorable, doesn’t fall into the trap of being overly precocious and pretty much steals every scene in which he appears.  Jeff Goldblum makes a good small appearance as Wally’s friend and Juliette Lewis makes a fingernails-on-a-chalkboard appearance as a friend of Kassie.   Patrick Wilson shows up as the supposed donor and is given his usual thankless role of pretty boy without a personality.

The good performances from the leads and outstanding showing from young Mr. Robinson help The Switch overcome its unsavory premise, but not completely.  The relationship between neurotic Wally and neurotic Sebastian is very sweet and it is in those scenes that the film really succeeds.  Wally and Kassie don’t have quite enough chemistry to make you forget that unfortunate scene in the bathroom so their scenes are more uncomfortable than funny.   Overall 3 stars for the good execution of a disgusting premise.

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