The Switch Review

poster from the Miramax film The Switch

I was undecided as to whether I should see The Switch or Nanny McPhee Returns this week (since we aren’t getting Get Low), but then another grown-up decided to go with me and my decision kind of made itself. You can’t drag real grown-ups to movies where little kids fall in the mud chasing after pigs. It just isn’t done. So we went to see The Switch instead. If you haven’t seen the previews, the basic premise is this:

A guy gets majorly drunk at his best friend’s insemination party and switches his juice for her donor’s, then when she moves back to town seven years later he has to figure out how to tell her.

It’s set up (in the trailers, anyway) as a romantic comedy, but don’t go to it expecting a repeat of The Backup Plan. There are no hijinks. No one falls in the mud, get hit in the crotch, or slips on a placenta. The Switch gives the audience more credit than that. In return, here is the credit that I will give The Switch: it’s pretty good.

It’s actually more of a comedy/drama with more emphasis on relationships in general than romance in particular, if that makes any sense. It’s not schmaltzy, at any rate. This is because it’s told from the man’s point of view rather than the woman’s. It’s almost like the fact that there could be romance if Wally (Jason Bateman) could pull his head out of his ass is taken as-read, because the film focuses less on him trying to win over Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) than it does on his relationship with his suspected son Sebastian (Thomas Robinson).

Wally and Sebastian fighting over the remote from the Miramax film The Switch

Who really does look a lot like Jason Bateman

The casting of Thomas Robinson as the son must have been a major coup for the filmmakers (Josh Gordon and Will Speck did the directing) because the kid is an eerie echo of Bateman. Real kids have at least something of their mothers in them, but I don’t see any of Kassie in Sebastian.

Wally and Sebastian watching the penguins from the Miramax film The Switch

Offspring or Clone? You decide.

The only thing that could possibly have come from his mother is his creativity. Sebastian, in addition to his more neurotic habits, collects picture frames, which isn’t that creative until you get to the part where he doesn’t put his own pictures in them, he makes up stories about the models in the demo pictures. It’s an adorable quirk that I’ve never seen before. Kassie, of course, loves him to pieces even though he’s weird (she is his mommy. It’s the law). And her love for her Wally-like son actually makes her appreciate Wally more.

Kassie and Sebastian hugging from the Miramax film The Switch

Okay, so maybe I kind of like that you’re weird and annoying

But as I said before, the movie is more about Wally than it is about Kassie, even though most of the plot is driven by her decisions (to get inseminated, to move away, to come back, etc) rather than his. Wally’s major decisions (to switch the sperm, to tell or not tell Kassie) are spaced widely apart at the beginning and end of the movie. But that’s cool, it works. I guess most people when they get older end up being more reactive than proactive. This is Wally’s journey toward proactivity.

Debbie showing Wally the baster from the Miramax film The Switch

And hair combing. Right up until the end he’s got Harry Potter hair

Of course, it’s not just his own insecurities he’s got to contend with. He could pretty much get over those with the help of his best buddy Leonard (Jeff Goldblum)…

Wally and Leonard running on treadmills from the Miramax film The Switch

who pretty much steals every scene he’s in

…but there’s also sperm-donor-turned-potential-boyfriend Roland (Patrick Wilson) standing in his way. He’s fun, athletic, outgoing, proactive, and pretty much everything Wally isn’t, except for one thing: Sebastian hates him.

Roland from the Miramax film The Switch

which is fair, because he is kind of a goon (Roland is, not Patrick Wilson)

Most of the comedy in the film is subtle. Sebastian’s deadpan hypochondria is hilarious and Wally tucks in a few chuckle-worthy zingers into otherwise serious conversations.

Debbie at the insemination party from the Miramax film The Switch

And then, there’s the sperm motif

In other words, it’s not trying too hard, which I appreciate. It’s set in New York (of course – where else?) but I can forgive it, because The Switch takes the time to properly explore motives and relationships instead of rushing straight through to the conclusion.

Wally and Kassie hugging from the Miramax film The Switch

And Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston are really cute together

So I give The Switch my recommendation. I don’t consider the $10 I spent for a ticket wasted. If you’re ready for a funny love story that’s not a romantic comedy, go see it. I think you’ll enjoy it.

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