Film Review with Robert Mann – The Switch

The Switch **½

Well, what do we have here? Yet another romantic comedy starring the increasingly bland Jennifer Aniston. Not only that but, after this year’s dreadful The Bounty Hunter, another high concept romantic comedy starring the increasingly bland Jennifer Aniston. A loose adaptation of the short story Baster by Jeffrey Eugenides, which was first published in the New Yorker in 1996 and later included in the 2001 best-of anthology Wonderful Town, The Switch is another film that seems to distinguish itself by its concept – although, after this year’s Jennifer Lopez romcom The Back-Up Plan the set up won’t entirely seem fresh – and also one that boasts some decent talent behind the camera. Just like her previous film, Aniston’s latest boasts some very promising directorial talent in the form of Josh Gordon and Will Speck, the men behind 2007’s Blades of Glory starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder, a film which still ranks among Ferrell’s funniest in this critic’s opinion. However, as I said, The Switch boasts promising talent just like Aniston’s last movie and in that case director Andy Tennant, who had done such a good job with the Will Smith romantic comedy Hitch, completely failed to make anything even remotely enjoyable. The Switch is not a repeat of Aniston’s last film but given how poor that film was this isn’t really saying much…

Attractive singleton Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) decides she wants to have a baby. Despite the objections of her neurotic best friend Wally (Jason Bateman), she chooses to go it alone, with the services of handsome and charming sperm donor Roland (Patrick Wilson). Wally has always had feelings for Kassie, but as his friend Leonard (Jeff Goldblum) points out, he missed his chance and she put him in the ‘friend zone’. But things don’t go to plan, as Wally gets so drunk at Kassie’s ‘insemination party’ that he accidentally spills Roland’s handiwork and ends up replacing it with his own. Seven years later, Kassie returns to New York along with precocious – but neurotic – son Sebastian (Thomas Robinson). Wally forms a bond with this loveable mini-version of himself, but the bad news is that Roland in the picture too…

While The Switch is not a repeat of the awfulness of The Bounty Hunter, it isn’t a return to form for Aniston either, as, while this film boasts an interesting premise that is dealt with a great deal of sensitivity and even (though some voiceover narration by Jason Bateman, mostly in the opening sequence) has some slight philosophical leanings, offering up commentary on the human condition, it is ultimately lacking as a comedy and piece of entertainment. This isn’t to say that the film is bad but it isn’t especially good either, rather being just bland, as is the case with Jennifer Aniston yet again. By and large, few complaints can be made about this film’s cast but Aniston just delivers another bland performance, failing to portray anywhere near the level of emotion that is sometimes necessary in the role and, as a result of this, her chemistry with Jason Bateman is so-so, sparks completely failing to fly between them. It’s a shame because Jason Bateman is quite decent, being perfectly neurotic in his role, and young actor Thomas Robinson perfectly captures all of Bateman’s mannerisms, making us never doubt that his character is Wally’s son. Also, Patrick Wilson is perfectly charismatic and there is amusing support from Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis (as Kassie’s friend Debbie). The film also boasts some good cinematography and editing work, being generally quite technically proficient, but the film is let down by a script that, while being pretty well written and offering up some decent dialogue, is all too low on laughs, much of the humour being subtle and not overtly noticeable, and also missing the crucial x factor that could have transformed this film from average to truly enjoyable. The film doesn’t conform entirely to the standard predictable romcom formula but not being unconventional and being truly good are two different things and sadly The Switch is a watchable film but never anything more than just okay. If this is your top choice to see on a trip to the cinema you may want to consider doing a switch of your own and going with something with a bit more edge to it.



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Review by Robert Mann BA (Hons)

© BRWC 2010.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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