Blu Ray Review: "The Switch"

Wally (Jason Bateman) and Cassidy (Jennifer Aniston) are best friends with a brief dating history in their distant past. With their younger days waning, Cassidy decides she's going to have a baby through artificial insemination and evens asks for Wally's help in picking the donor, a guy named Roland (Patrick Wilson). At the insemination party (I'm not making that up), Wally gets drunk and accidentally flushes the sample and makes the brash decision to replace it with his own. He, of course, forgets that this happened and goes on with his life after Cassidy and her newborn move to Minnesota. A few years later, however, she moves home and Wally begins to see similarities between himself and the child, Sebastian (Bryce Robinson), and this forces an awkward confrontation between old friends.

"The Switch" essentially comes down to a clash between the what happens on screen and what takes place behind the camera. Off screen, this movie is an absolute, unmitigated disaster. Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck ("Blades of Glory") and writer Allan Loeb ("Just Go With It") hamstring "The Switch" from the get go with a pointless, antiquated voiceover narration that never pays off. I'm not against narration as a principle but it can definitely be the first sign of bad things to come. This one is one of the most worthless I can remember. On top of that, "The Switch" has no idea whether it is supposed to be a romantic comedy with heart of a slapstick comedy. The concept in and of itself seems like a Farrelly Brothers-like comedy but either Gordon and Speck don't know how to make this kind of film or they don't have the stones to go as far down the "stupid funny" road as you have to make it work. Even the characters themselves are up-and-down and unbalanced, particularly Bateman's Wally, who has almost no consistency throughout the first half of the film. The supporting characters are also painfully cliche or one note.

With that said, and I'm as shocked by this as you are, the chemistry between Aniston, Bateman, and even Robinson is excellent. I would not have believed that statement had I not said it myself. I love Bateman (who doesn't?) but let's be frank, he often takes the shotgun approach. That is to say, he'll make three, four, five movies in a year and hope that one hits the mark. He's not exactly trustworthy. Meanwhile, Aniston's career failures have been well documented though, I guess out of sympathy more than anything else, most of us tend to continue rooting for her. My point is, you wouldn't think that these two (and the kid who brings them together) would be able to completely and totally hold a movie together. But they really do. Their relationship is remarkably natural in a film that is WHOLLY unnatural and absurd. In addition, the dynamic between Bateman and Robinson is a quirky take on the father-son relationship. All of these actors truly give "The Switch" their all which is both highly respectable and sad considering what an awful film they're working with. The chemistry isn't enough to make this a "good" movie but it's certainly enough to turnĀ a world class atrocity into a reasonably decent effort.

Grade: C+