Movie Review: The Switch (2010)

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Jason Bateman plays with a cup of semen in The Switch
Photo: Miramax Films

You could look at The Switch any number of ways. Believe me I have in the course of deciding how I was going to tackle this review.

I don’t think you need to be a feminist to consider it disturbing. You don’t need to be an overprotective parent to consider a few of the scenes a bit questionable for a PG-13 rated film. You don’t need to be a psychologist to realize Jason Bateman’s character is lonely, disturbed and severely depressed on top of his admitted neurosis. And you certainly don’t need to watch it for too long to realize that for a romantic comedy, it certainly isn’t romantic and is infrequently comedic.

The only way you absolutely know this is a romantic comedy is the way it falls into the same trap all romantic comedies of late seem to aim for. The characters must have something to say and though they may try, they can’t say it until the very end of the film. Oh, and if they do give it a try, it must be misunderstood in such a fashion to make sure just enough information gets out to make certain the people they are talking to end up with the wrong impression or downright mad.

The worst part of all this? The Switch could have actually been decent had Bateman’s character got what he needed to get off his chest, off his chest. Some real storytelling could have actually taken place. It wouldn’t have turned this into a masterpiece, considering the setup is nothing to brag about, but it would have been far more watchable.

The Switch centers on Kassie (Jennifer Aniston). She can hear her biological clock ticking and has decided artificial insemination is the way to go. Wally (Bateman), her neurotic best friend whose been unable to profess her love for her for about 13 years, considers this a bad idea. He let’s her know his opinion and fractures the friendship. However, when she invites him to her insemination party (seriously, an actual party where she gets inseminated on the spot) a series of events lead to Wally switching the donor’s semen for his. The kicker here is, he’s too drunk to remember it and for seven years no one’s the wiser. Wack-a-doozy!

The film continues on from there, and if you aren’t scarred for life after watching Jason Bateman play with a cup full of Patrick Wilson’s semen you’ll get a blurry bit of full-frontal male nudity soon enough to remind you this is a PG-13 movie. Of course, that’s an MPAA complaint and isn’t a knock on the film, though the semen scene wasn’t exactly… appealing?

Directed by the Blades of Glory duo, Will Speck and Josh Gordon, The Switch can’t be slammed too hard. It’s not as if I am talking high art here, though it is interesting to know this is the drivel Allen Loeb is writing when he’s not penning Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, though his script for the awful 21 should have prepared me.

I will say Jeff Goldblum playing Wally’s boss pulls his weight quite nicely and Thomas Robinson playing Kassie’s son Sebastian plays what is probably the most nuanced role in the film rather well. Bateman satisfies though I found his character despicable and Aniston brought nothing to this character we haven’t seen from her time and time again. For some that’s just fine, but for me it just felt trite.

If you go in expecting little, and these are the types of movies that generally appeal to your pleasure center then I expect you’ll walk away mildly amused. Otherwise, skipping this one is your best option.

GRADE: C-