Apr 25, 2015

Review: The Switch (2010)

The Switch is apparently based on a 1996 short story by Jeffrey Eugenides called Baster which originally appeared in The New Yorker. Who'd have thought right? He's the guy who wrote the novel The Virgin Suicides which of course eventually became a feature film in 1999 as Sofia Coppola's very competent directorial debut. The fact that Eugenides wasn't involved with The Switch at all isn't much of a surprise since it doesn't seem like the kind of entertainment that he would typically be involved with if TVS is anything to go by.

The Switch was my second Jennifer Aniston movie in two nights my first Jason Bateman in what seems like ages. I think it's been at least a year since I've seen him in anything and I was glad to finally be breaking that streak. I could be wrong, but I think Paul was the last time I saw him in a movie. I personally like Bateman, but he does unfortunately seem to have a habit of being in mostly bad movies that don't really showcase what he's able to do. Judging from the obnoxious poster, I was doubtful that The Switch would be any different.

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At a Glance


Genre: comedy, drama, romance
Directed by: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Produced by: Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, Jennifer Aniston, etc.
Written by: Allan Loeb
Music by: Alex Wurman
Running time: 101 minutes
Production company: Echo Films, Bona Fide Productions, Mandate Pictures
Distributed by: Miramax Films, Lionsgate, Maple Pictures, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $19,000,000
Box office: $49,830,607 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Thomas Robinson, Patrick Wilson, Juliette Lewis, Jeff Goldblum, Caroline Dhavernas, Scott Elrod, Bryce Robinson, Diane Sawyer, Victor Pagan, Todd Louiso

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Synopsis


Kassie Larson (Jennifer Aniston) is starting to feel the ticking of her biological clock. Single and without much of a choice, she decides to find the perfect sperm donor so that she can have a baby before it's too late. Long-time friend Wally Mars (Jason Bateman) is opposed to the idea and declines to help Kassie find the right guy. The truth of the matter is, even years after mutually ending their relationship and remaining friends, Wally is still in love with Kassie.

Review


The biggest problem right off the bat with The Switch is that it seems so far removed from reality. What kind of female friend would ask their male friend for help in looking for a sperm donor? Right away it would seem like nothing more than an excuse to manufacture an awkward scene and have Wally ask why couldn't he provide the sperm? He's apparently too neurotic and self-absorbed according to Kassie, so it's a no go. Instead of making her long-time friend feel bad, why didn't Kassie just ask her friend Debbie (Juliette Lewis) for help in her quest and simply announce the news to Wally?

Decision-making gets into even murkier waters once we get the point where Wally decides to play around with the container that houses "the ingredient" of Kassie's chosen donor Roland (Patrick Wilson) in the bathroom during a party. Really? The excuse here is that he's drunk out of his mind which then causes him to accidentally rinse the stuff out in the sink. Panicking, he's got to replace it in the only way that he can. Through the magic of screenwriting, Wally forgets all of this ever happened because he was so drunk. Lovely.

Besides being guilty of characters doing inexplicable things, The Switch is also guilty of being painfully formulaic. Kassie and Wally both have their zany friends who they get advice from and the plot follows a typical rom-com trajectory that doesn't hold a single surprise. Awkward scenes also seem more and more manufactured each time they happen as if Josh Gordon and Will Speck are holding up signs saying "Hey guys, this is awkward. Please cringe." 

In terms of chemistry between Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman, I give them something like a 6/10 or so. They have the odd banter that works, but when it comes to actual romantic feelings between their characters I wasn't feeling it at all. Jennifer Aniston was actually nominated for a Razzie as Worst Actress, but I'm not so sure it's that warranted. She's pretty much just acting like her character Rachel from Friends which just makes it a case of being relatively lazy and not so much bad.

What I do have to say was a genuine surprise to me is that The Switch is a pretty good looking film. From the mise-en-scène at Kassie's insemination party to the nice aerial shots of the New York City skyline, The Switch is pretty easy on the eyes. Full credit goes to cinematographer Jess Hall as well as production designer Adam Stockhausen for their work because they raise the visual quality of this film by a mile even though it doesn't deserve it in the least. 

The Switch sure looks nice, but that still doesn't hide its rotten core. It's like opening a bag of Lindt chocolates and finding chunks of half-melted Hershey instead. There's pretty much nothing to the story that we haven't already seen in romantic comedies and the characters stretch believability way too much for my taste. Bateman makes The Switch almost bearable, but even he has a few comedic flubs that can't really be looked past. The Switch is one to forget as soon as you can.

Rating


5/10