- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Miramax
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
he marketing campaign for the new comedy, “The Switch,” proudly declares that it’s from the makers of “Juno” and “Little Miss Sunshine.” Of course, while that may be true, having the same producer on a project isn’t exactly like having the same director or writer. What it does share with those films is a decidedly indie flair that is never as slapsticky as its trailers seem to indicate. “The Switch” certainly has a few outrageous moments, but it’s mostly a surprisingly heartfelt comedy in the same vein as "About a Boy" that succeeds thanks to the great chemistry between Jason Bateman and newcomer Thomas Robinson.
To say that Jennifer Aniston is the star of the film would be a bit of an overstatement, but “The Switch” does start out with the focus primarily on her character, Kassie, a 44-year-old TV producer who can hear her biological clock ticking away. Worried that she’ll never meet the right man to start a family with, Kassie informs her best friend, Wally (Jason Bateman), that she’s going to use a sperm donor to get pregnant. But when Wally accidentally spills the “offering” at Kassie’s insemination party while in a drunken stupor, he replaces it with his own. When he awakes the new morning, he doesn’t have any recollection of the titular switch, and before he knows it, Kassie has moved back home to Minnesota with her new baby in tow. Fast forward seven years and Wally receives a call from Kassie letting him know she’s returned to New York with her son, Sebastian (Thomas Robinson), whom she wants him to meet. But when Wally notices the similarities between Sebastian and himself, the dirty details of that fateful night begin to resurface.
Based on the short story, “Baster,” by Jeffrey Eugenides (author of “The Virgin Suicides” and “Middlesex”), “The Switch” isn’t nearly as controversial as fans of his work might expect, but that’s probably because the film is a lot more light-hearted than its source material, and a lot longer as well. While Eugenides’ story ends with the birth of Kassie’s child, “The Switch” continues beyond that as Wally gets a chance to spend time with Sebastian, and even grows up a little in the process. These interactions also happen to be the film’s best moments, as the slightly neurotic Wally quickly discovers that he’s the only person who can relate to the precocious toddler. It helps to have a reliable Everyman like Jason Bateman in the role because he’s capable of doing both comedy and drama, but his wide-eyed co-star shouldn’t be taken for granted, as Robinson’s candid delivery goes a long way in creating the duo's dynamic relationship.
Unfortunately, nothing good can really be said of Jennifer Aniston, who continues to play the same one note that made her America’s favorite “friend” back in the 90s. The years haven’t been kind to Aniston, either, who has since become one of the least likeable actresses working today, and as expected, she sucks the energy out of the movie every time she appears onscreen. Luckily, Bateman is at the top of his game, and the supporting actors (including Patrick Wilson, Juliette Lewis and a scene-stealing Jeff Goldblum) are all pitch-perfect in their respective roles. It might not be the first movie about artificial insemination to come out this year, and you can probably guess how it’s going to end before it even begins, but “The Switch” is still a charming and genuinely funny adult comedy that also serves as a welcome finale to the summer movie season.
Single-Disc Blu-ray Review:
The Blu-ray release of “The Switch” features a rather predictable collection of bonus material, including a making-of featurette (“The Switch Conceived”), deleted scenes with introductions by directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon (which is the closest you’ll come to any sort commentary on the film), an inferior alternate ending, and a blooper reel that shows just how much more talented Jason Bateman is than Jennifer Aniston.