What's the deal with artificial insemination as the subject matter for comedies this year? So far we've had the 'romantic comedy' The Back-Up Plan
with Jennifer Lopez
as the woman who opts to take the alternate route to pregnancy, and The Kids Are All Right
with Julianne Moore
and Annette Bening as a lesbian couple who twice use Mark Ruffalo's
sperm in order to become parents. And now we've got Jennifer Aniston
in The Switch
as the woman who wants a baby but doesn't have a partner available to fulfill one-half of the necessary requirements needed in order to get pregnant.
Of the three artificial insemination films, The Kids Are All Right
does the best job of pulling off the concept. The Switch
is all right, but because it's such a one-note story stretched into an hour and a half film, it wears out its welcome fairly quickly. The Switch
is full of movie characters doing things people only do in Hollywood films and speaking the way people only do in movies. You've got the independent woman (Aniston) who has thrust the guy who's probably best-suited for daddy duty into the friend zone. You've got the neurotic man (Jason Bateman) who only truly admits his feelings after a decade plus of being just a friend, and only when it's obvious the woman he loves is about to be taken off the market. And then you've got the nice-looking, athletic, successful man (Patrick Wilson
) who's supposedly the donor of the sperm and who, years later, wants to be involved in everyone's lives.
Jason Bateman and Patrick Wilson in 'The Switch.'© Miramax Films
Throw in a few quirky side characters (Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis) for the leads to confide in and exchange witty one-liners with and that's all there is to The Switch. Well, almost all there is. Because what saves The Switch from being a completely forgettable, end of the summer movie season throwaway romantic comedy is the performance of Jennifer Aniston's onscreen son, Thomas Robinson. This kid is absolutely terrific. He can deliver a line that shouldn't work coming out of the mouth of a child and sell it in a way that should make his adult co-stars envious.
Robinson's adult co-stars don't have nearly the chemistry with each other that they have with young Robinson. Aniston and Bateman are friends in real life, but it doesn't carry over to the film. They don't play well off of each other, and so it's tough to buy the fact their characters have been friends for years. And if you can't buy just their friendship, then it's impossible to buy them as a couple romantically.
Aniston's not asked to really do anything beyond smile, look confused at times, and get aggravated every so often throughout the course of the film. Bateman fares better as his role requires more of him than that. He pulls off playing a phobia-laden man who grows in maturity over the course of the film well, and of the main characters, his is the more likable.
Thomas Robinson and Jason Bateman in 'The Switch.'© Miramax Films
The Bottom Line
never flips on and the movie never really goes anywhere. You know from the first few minutes what's going to happen by the end of The Switch
, and getting to that final reveal turns out not to be worth the wait.
The Switch was directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck and is rated PG-13 for mature thematic content, sexual material including dialogue, some nudity, drug use and language.
Theatrical Release: August 20, 2010
This review is based on a screening provided by the studio. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy