The Switch (Miramax Films, PG-13)

There isn’t much that happens in The Switch that most moviegoers haven’t seen hundreds of times before.


The movie adds little to the romantic comedy genre and meanders through a predictable storyline slower than the line at the DMV on a Saturday morning. The movie is directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck, the duo behind the 2007 flop Blades of Glory, who must be so incompetent individually that only by pooling their mediocre talent could they possibly complete a feature-length movie.

The movie stars Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman as best friends who know each other so well that their annoying little habits are actually endearing. (A male and a female are best friends, you say? Could there be a romantic entanglement down the road?) Kassie (Aniston) decides that she wants to have a baby and that waiting for the perfect guy is too risky. Wally (Bateman) thinks her plan is too unrealistic and that she is being rash. She, of course, though asks Wally to help her find the perfect donor even though he is nothing but pessimistic about the idea the whole time.

At the party to celebrate Kassie getting impregnated, Wally meets Roland (Patrick Wilson), the sperm donor she has selected, who is a good-looking, manly man who immediately intimidates Wally. After many drinks and plenty of self-loathing, Wally finds himself in the bathroom with Roland’s donation which he accidentally loses down the drain of the sink. In his inebriated state, Wally decides the only thing to do is replace it with his own. Seven years later, we meet Sebastian (Thomas Robinson), Kassie’s son. He is exactly like Wally physically, emotionally and mentally. Kassie doesn’t see this but Wally knows something is strange even though he doesn’t remember his drunken sperm donation.

First, what’s good in the film? Bateman is hilarious and a joy to watch as always. He has a wonderful talent for blending great comedic performances with an emotional impact. Without Bateman in the lead, The Switch would be entirely intolerable. Also good is young Robinson and the relationship that develops between Wally and Sebastian. The two actors are perfect counterparts to one another and are easily believable as father and son. Robinson has the most heartbreaking eyes of any child actor today and several pivotal scenes between him and Bateman are quite touching.

The rest of the movie is essentially regurgitated rom-com protocol with no deviation from the tried-and-true formula. Screenwriter Allan Loeb walks through the romantic comedy manual step-by-step and gives the actors little more to go on than stock motivation and emotions. This is both surprising and disheartening coming from the writer of the wonderful script for 2007’s Things We Lost in the Fire and this year’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

Aniston must have signed a contract with some Hollywood boss (or maybe the devil) to only make mediocre fare that requires less effort than putting on a pair of slippers. Aniston, once again, relies on her attractiveness to fake her way through a scene. She gives no more of a performance than any number of the extras that can be seen throughout the movie and about halfway through her time on screen one begins wishing any of the extras would replace her who might actually make an attempt at acting.

The Switchis exactly what the trailer makes it appear to be but instead of being subjected to two minutes of unpleasantness the audience is made to suffer an hour and 40 minutes of drivel. | Matthew F. Newlin


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