on February 18, 2011
Every so often there comes along a movie that most mainstream critics just don't like and I do. The Switch is one of those movies. Far nicer and sweeter than I expected, you may not LOVE this movie, but if it doesn't make you smile, there is something wrong with you.
Jennifer Aniston plays Kassie, a woman who is tired of waiting on a seemingly non-existent Mr. Right to start a family. She decides to find a donor who is tall and has a good sense of humor (traits not possessed by her best friend, the neurotic Wally (Jason Bateman)) and hold a very special gathering for friends and family. At this "insemination party", a very drunk Wally decides to 'switch' her donor's ingredient for his own, thus secretly hijacking her pregnancy. Fast-forward seven years and we meet Sebastian, Kassie's child, who is becoming more and more like his real father Wally by the day.
There is an underlying sad tension building all throughout the movie as we wait for the moment when Wally will put two and two together and remember what he did that fateful night, and then when he must reveal this dirty secret to Kassie. My guess is this is why some critics didn't like it. If you go into it with a better perspective though, it is more about how Wally decides he is ready to commit to this young child as a father, and how he is a better person for it, regardless of how everything ends up. A couple of scenes are downright touching, and the ending, while somewhat rushed and flawed, didn't ruin the story. I was not expecting much and in return got a whole lot.
on March 19, 2011
I'm a rom-com junkie who's mighty frustrated with the genre--how can most of these films be sub-par? doesn't that go against the rules of statistics?--and yet I must say I was pleasantly surprised by The Switch. It's a cut above the norm, mostly because of the relationship between father and son, which is warmly, sweetly, comedically and endearingly acted.
This film is Hollywood; despite a strange lull after the "switch" which suggests the pacing might go indie, it returns to Hollywood momentum. Which is fine, but the editing is slightly off there. That said, the charm and comedy of the father and son really do make this movie. I'm not into the standard manipulation of cute faces and piping voices for ratings, but these two are really sweet magic together.
Bateman's acting is touchingly understated when he's with the kid; the child (Thomas Robinson) is earnest and adorable and is so natural in his connection with his father. Aniston picks up credibility in a few of the intimate moments she has with Bateman--you feel her looking at him and being moved and wanting/wondering--but overall this really is a Bateman/Robinson movie.
I don't dislike Aniston in general, but I absolutely didn't "feel" her the way I did the other two. The movie has the usual Hollywood stock characters for best friends; Jeff Goldblum is amusing in a slightly quieter way than usual. But it's Bateman and Robinson, as a duo and separately, that make the movie a four star in its genre--and that make you long for the Bateman/Aniston characters to live happily ever after.
I rented it thinking it would be bad fluff. I watched it half-over again later that night, just to laugh and love a bit more with the father/son duo, and now I'm going to buy it for real. This isn't going to be the best romantic comedy you'll have ever watched (I hope), but it's not at all a bad way to spend a couple hours. :)
THE SWITCH is another story about artificial insemination and the impact it has on the participants. Yes, it has been done many times with varying results, but what makes this version of the story different and worthy of merit and attention is the sparkling screenplay by Allan Loeb adapted from the short story 'Baster' by gifted author Jeffrey Eugenides ('Middlesex', 'The Virgin Suicides', 'My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead', and short stories 'The Speed of Sperm', 'Air Mail', 'Ancient Myths', etc). It is a film that gives us the opportunity to remember the fine comic time of Jeff Goldblum, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, and Juliet Lewis, courtesy of the fine direction by Josh Gordon and Will Speck..
Wally Mars (Jason Bateman) is an oddly neurotic character who has a very difficult time connecting to people, especially in the dating department. His best friend is Kassie Larson (Jennifer Aniston) a successful woman who abruptly decides her biologic clock is ticking down and decides to have a baby by paying a sperm donor. Wally is shocked, but Kassie's other best friend Debbie (Juliette Lewis, bubbling brilliantly) supports her conviction to take charge of her life and plans a party to celebrate Kassie's incipient 'donation'. Kassie selects a potential donor in Roland (Patrick Wilson) who is a square and married teacher but 'needs the money'. At the party when the 'donation' is to be deposited, Wally gets drunk and accidentally spills Roland's 'contribution', and in drunken desperation replaces it with his own - a secret he doesn't even share with Leonard (Jeff Goldblum) with whom he works and has a strong friendship. The inseminated Kassie moves back home, returning seven years later with her six-year old son Sebastian (Thomas Robinson, a very fine child actor). Kassie courts the now divorced Roland, a blow to Wally who in his 'babysitting' chores grows close to Sebastian who is very much like Wally. How the story ends is predictable but heartwarmingly humorous, especially watching the relationship between Wally and Sebastian develop.
In addition to the strong cast of leading actors there are cameos by Kelli Barrett and especially the significantly impressive Scott Elrod (watch this young actor's career blossom!). Largely due to the smart dialogue delivered by specialists in comedy, this film works well. Grady Harp, March 11
on June 15, 2015
I had low expectations going into this film, which is a great place to start. Jason Bateman had never really penetrated my consciousness until this film in which he has the lead male role. He has a sort of everyman face and a quiet, un-dramatic, non-flashy acting style that makes him easy to under-estimate, but I felt he did an excellent job with this part. And Jennifer Aniston is...well you know...she's JENNIFER ANISTON as usual. The set-up is simple: Bateman and Aniston's characters have been co-workers for years. They tried maybe 2 dates early on, but his character was so uber-nerdy that Aniston told him she just wanted to be friends. Since that time he's been her best male friend [while actually being in love with her, but unable to say so]. When she tells him her biological clock is ticking and she's decided to have a baby via artificial insemination, and would he please help her find the ideal sperm, he goes so far as to suggest she could just use his, but she just ignores it like some kind of joke and is, presumably, busy calculating: do I want sperm from some super-athlete? A Nobel Prize winner? How close to my appearance should the donor be, and so on. So she finds the sample she wants, throws an impregnation party, invites Jason's character who arrives pretty pissed and morose and proceeds to get very drunk. It's downhill from there. Swapping sperm in the bathroom. So her kid is actually his kid, but he's still afraid to tell her....
I should add Jeff Goldblum has a small role as Bateman's male confidant at work, and I just love listening to Goldblum. Even in a little role like this, he really brings it to life.
Bottom line: what should interest the audience is not where the film is headed because that should be obvious just from the back jacket. The interest lies in how good a job it does on the journey. It does a good job. This does have its very serious moments, but fundamentally it's a romantic comedy, and done in a quiet, natural way. The specials on the disc reveal that actually Bateman and Aniston HAVE been friends for years, DID go to some Hollywood parties together decades ago, and makes you start to wonder how many similarities there are between them as people and their characters---but it seems they both had a really good time making the movie, so I think you should too. I did!
I liked the comedic premise of this movie: male best friend who yearns to be more gets drunk and makes the 'switch' to become his female best friend's sperm donor, without her knowing about it. Years later when he meets her kid and puts the drunken night's puzzle pieces together he knows he must tell his friend before she decides to spend her life with another man.
What works in this film for me is Jason Bateman's portrayal of the BFF. No one is good enough for him because he knows who he wants, but is afraid to say so and risk losing the friendship. His comedic timing is good and he makes it believable. His exchanges with his boss, played by Jeff Goldblume, are great. He also works really well with the boy(s) who play the son. Without these good points, the movie wouldn't be a 'like' for me.
What doesn't work is the tempo of the movie and Jennifer Aniston's performance. The tempo seemed to be OK initially, but then tended to drag. It picked up with some laughs and then again, dragged. As for Aniston, I like her, but I find that one movie role seems to be pretty much like the next as far as her acting range - it's very limited. I wanted to be but wasn't sold on her desire to get pregnant, her affection for anyone around her, and even less sold in scenes where she was 'mothering'. For me, her performance was sort of like watching someone paint a wall white. Nothing bad, just nothing interesting. A 'C-' performance overall for her.
It's a pleasant, but not noteworthy movie. If you want a milk-toast drama/comedy and like the actors, give it a look, but keep your expectations low.
If the Hollywood studios still made the type of urban comedies they made back in the early 1970's starring George Segal (usually) as a neurotic nebbish, then Jason Bateman's big-screen career would certainly be secure. As he displayed consistently on Arrested Development, the actor's dry delivery and slyly observant manner are a perfect match for Wally Mars, the comically cynical equities analyst he plays in this sadly overlooked 2010 romantic comedy co-directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon (who much to my surprise, helmed the Will Ferrell figure-skating comedy, Blades of Glory). Although he is the true protagonist of the story, the movie was marketed as a Jennifer Aniston vehicle. She plays rising TV producer Kassie Larson, his long-ago girlfriend who has relegated him to the "friend zone" even though he obviously hasn't gotten over her.
Written with verve by Allen Loeb (who also co-wrote Aniston's other 2010 movie, the Adam Sandler starrer, Just Go With It), the story revolves around Kassie's ticking biological clock. In a seven-years-back flashback, she is seen deliberately bypassing Wally as a possible sperm donor in favor of a more predictable candidate, Roland, a struggling associate professor at Columbia, who happens to be married and drop-dead handsome. At an "insemination" party, Wally gets wasted and drops the carelessly placed vial of Roland's semen down the bathroom sink. This leaves Wally no choice but to replace the sample himself. Kassie eventually becomes pregnant and moves back home to Minnesota. Flash forward to the present, and Kassie returns to Manhattan with her six-year-old son Sebastian in tow. The fact that Sebastian acts like a miniature version of Wally gets completely past Kassie but not Wally who slowly realizes that out of his stupor years ago, his son was conceived.
Although this indiscretion would seem like the perfect excuse for Wally to reveal his true feelings for Kassie, complications ensue when she starts a relationship with Roland, now desperately on the rebound from a bitter divorce. At the same time, Wally forms a close bond with Sebastian who naturally gravitates toward him because of their mutual idiosyncrasies. Bateman handles Wally's evolution from self-absorbed fatalist to paternal protector with aplomb and surprising depth. Aniston is better served here than in most of her standard-issue romantic comedies, and the sharp interplay between these two actors, especially in the beginning scenes, is refreshingly rapid-fire like a modern-day "His Girl Friday". With his constantly forlorn expression interrupted by moments of genuine happiness, Thomas Robinson is terrifically understated as Sebastian, and his unforced scenes with Bateman represent the true high points of the film.
A crack supporting cast has been assembled. As Wally's best friend and manager, the sarcastic ladies' man Leonard, Jeff Goldblum takes a predictable role and gives it his special, off-kilter twist. The result is his funniest turn in years, for example, his use of the term "ill-advised" during the moment of revelation is hilariously unexpected. The same can also be said for Juliette Lewis, who plays Kassie's constantly inappropriate best friend Debbie with her spacey delivery intact as she slings clever putdowns at Wally. Even Patrick Wilson, saddled with the no-win role of the golden boy Roland, who has no capacity for honest introspection, is funny in a role that gets diabolically transparent as the proceedings get complicated. The 2011 DVD/Blu-Ray offers a standard set of extras - a fifteen-minute making-of featurette ("The Switch Conceived"); about ten deleted and alternate scenes running for nearly half an hour in total, one a more purposeful variation on the central scene; and a brief blooper reel. Give it a try.
Jennifer Aniston, America's Sweetheart! At an age (40+), when most actresses no longer play romantic leads, she shines radiantly and acts with ever increasing depth. She still looks hot to me.
Now her character Kassie, well, .... She's successful, intelligent, and pigheaded. While she is busy becoming successful, her biological alarm clock goes BONG. There is a famous Sufi story of a man who rode as fast as he could from one side of Arabia to the other in search of his horse, only to realize at the end he was riding on it! In this somewhat formulaic romantic comedy Kassie doesn't realize her somewhat sensitive shy BBF and confidant is actually a good choice as the husband she wants. She wants to have a baby and she won't let not being married stand in the way. Justin Bateman plays the introverted BBF Wally. As you watch this, you want to shake both of them and say "wake up and look around you". Kassie is infuriatingly independent, to her own detriment. Just as Bateman is shy, to his... But that's where the comedy and plot is, without giving too much away. Kassie finds she has underestimated the difficulty of raising a son without a father, she needs more than a turkey baster...Thomas Robinson plays Sebastian, the shy funny and neurotic son from a young actor who will be seen again. Certainly a comedy for a modern age. This movie will doubtless be seen by more women than men but it shouldn't be, it has a lot to say about men and fatherhood.
It's not "Citizen Kane", but it is witty, warmhearted and touching and Aniston shows more depth with each new role.
Who doesn't love Jennifer? She was lovely in Friends, warm, funny, the girl-next-door, etc, but what's up with her movie choices? I watched her one of her first big screen movies, The Good Girl, and she was an amazing actress. Sadly now she's just playing it safe with formulaic comedies that she seems to sleep-walk through. And The Switch is no exception.
The plot goes like this; 40ish career woman, Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) gets tired of waiting for Mr. Right while her eggs are aging faster than raw fish left out on the counter. Being a can-do kind of gal, Kassie decides to have a baby the new-fashion way, and finds a strapping hunk of a handsome young man to donate his sperm to her project. Because the whole idea seems a little cold and unfeeling to Kassie, she has a party the night of the insemination, inviting all her friends over to party it up before she goes under the 'turkey baster' so to speak.
The donor (Patrick Wilson) is blonde haired-blue-eyed and a very upbeat kind of fellow, as opposed to Kassie's best friend Willie(Jason Bateman) who's puts the 'S' in sad-sack, but who loves her dearly. So, Willie gets messed up with herbs and hard liquor and accidentally spills the donor's donation into the sink. Not knowing what else to do, Willie makes his own donation.
Fast forward 7 years, and Kassie moves back to New York with her six year-old son who's a mini-me of Willie. Of course Willie figures it out, and then he wonders if he can possibly tell Kassie and risk losing her forever with his deceit.
While the premise of the movie is fine, though sort of low humor, it's Jennifer's performance that bothers me. She's not all warm and fuzzy with the truly cute kid who plays her son, in fact her only emotion seems to be irritability, so much so that I kept wondering why Bateman was in love with her. Was it just that he's a sadist? I guess that works, though it was hard to watch.
I keep watching Jennifer's movies, hoping that I'll see the fine actress in The Good Girl, but she's wearing me out. I don't know if I can sit through another inane comedy with Jennifer just phoning it in.
on December 20, 2015
A movie that does what a movie should do... make us feel better. About our lives, about the possibilities, about the potential that exists whether we know it or not... about life in general. Here stands a film that shows us what life can be, what life should be, and how to laugh. This film is funny, it's sad, it's happy..... it's human. If i were a film critic i wouldn't tell you to watch this movie because everyone knows critics are idiots and no one ever agrees with them, but seeing as i'm not a critic, just a movie lover, i'm telling you to watch this movie and to do so with an open mind and a willing heart. You won't be able not to love it.
on March 26, 2011
I watched this movie because I'm a fan of Jason Bateman. Obviously, the premise has been done before so I didn't have high expectaions other than enjoying his performance. I was pleasantly surprised though. I found it quite enjoyable. I think the cast really made it. I really like understated and dry humor and they pulled it of well. You aren't going to be blown away by this kind of story but it is very entertaining and well done... which honestly, I find to be be rare in movies these days. Bateman is VERY endearing, as is the the little boy, who did an amazing job. I even enjoyed Anniston:) I wish there had been more scenes fleshing out the realtionship between the two main characters because it had a nice "When Harry Met Sally" vibe to it. All in all, well worth it!