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Genre: Comedy, Garbage
Country: United States
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis, Thomas Robinson, Caroline Dhavernas
Directors: Will Speck, Josh Gordon
Run time: 101 minutes
The three stars I’m giving The Switch are due entirely to Jason Bateman and Thomas Robinson. Without them, this movie would be unwatchable. Robinson is terrific as a neurotic little boy, and Bateman is the perfect compliment as his neurotic father. The scenes where the two are together are the only good ones in the whole film. However, even this relationship doesn’t make a ton of sense. To believe it, you would have to believe that neuroses are genetically inherited traits. Which stretches credibility a little.
But not nearly as much as the rest of the movie. Jennifer Aniston wants to get pregnant. But for some reason, she has never, in her life, met a man willing to inseminate her. Or, I suppose, one that was good enough to inseminate her. Or something. Implausible. This character looks exactly like Jennifer Aniston. I think she might be able to find a candidate or two. So she selects a handsome burly man to be the sperm donor, presumably from a catalog? Or something? I understand this process when you go to the clinic, but then…
There is a big, huge party to celebrate Aniston’s attempt to inseminate herself. I don’t think anyone has ever done this, in the history of the world. There are three guests of honour – Aniston herself, the sperm donor (who has, for some reason, been invited to the party with his wife), and his deposit, which is kept in a little cup in the bathroom in one of those things used to chill wine. Does any of this make sense? Not really, but it’s the only way to bring about the event around which the movie is based.
That event is Jason Bateman, Aniston’s best friend, getting totally loaded and knocking over the sperm cup. Not wanting to be found out, he replaces the sperm in the cup with his own seed. In order to do this, he needs a visual aid (because, I guess, the scene would be much less funny without one?) So he finds a magazine with Diane Sawyer on the front of it, and goes to town. Then he passes out and forgets the entire night.
This raises at least one more problem in logic. I have been that drunk before. I have passed out and forgotten what I had done the night before. But whenever that happened, those memories are gone. Lost forever. You couldn’t walk up to me today and get me to remember a single detail of one of those nights. And certainly, ten years later, I would have even less ability to recollect the events that took place while I was utterly blacked out. But this is not only what I’m supposed to believe, it’s the central premise of the movie!
When Aniston returns to town with her now grown son in tow, Bateman rekindles his friendship with her, and although they both are clearly meant for each other, they can’t get together because the formula of a movie like this dictates that they don’t profess their love until the final scene. Also, there has to be a Big Douchebag Boyfriend thrown into the mix, so we have someone to dislike while rooting for the good guy. The Big Douchebag Boyfriend in this case is the supposed Real Sperm Donor, and he’s a cartoon Douchebag.
Also essential to the plot working out the way it is formulaically supposed to is that Bateman, once he (somehow) figures out what he’s done, he can’t ever actually tell Aniston, even when he is trying to do so. Oh no – the phone rang, I couldn’t tell her then. Oh, we can’t talk about this now, I have big news! Hold that thought a minute…I have to…wash my hair…also if you tell me right now this movie won’t be able to fill an hour and a half!
Aniston is good. She’s not a great actress, she’s Jennifer Aniston. And she fills the role of Bland Hot Chick In A Romantic Comedy nicely. Bateman is terrific, but his talents are utterly wasted here. And young Thomas Robinson is a memorable little boy, but when this movie ended, I was remembering the sour taste it left in my mouth more than I was remembering the stellar performance of a little boy. I hope I get to see him someday in a movie that doesn’t suck.