For those of us who have oft pondered, perhaps on a drastically lonely, rainy day, what the pros and cons of artificial insemination might be, Josh Gordon and Will Speck’s The Switch is a hilariously unconventional place to start. Confident, successful Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) has decided, in lieu of numerous failed relationships, that her desire to become a mother mustn’t rely on the unlikelihood of finding Mr Right. Thus, to reassure herself that her plan to find a sperm donor is the right choice, she confides in her neurotic ex-flame, best-pal convert, Wally (Jason Bateman).
Disapproving vehemently, Wally’s feelings of jealousy and depression trigger a hilarious chain of events resulting in an unexpected outcome, featuring him as the amnesiac inseminator and Kassie fleeing New York, both parties none the wiser. Fast forward seven years, reintroduce Kassie and young Sebastian (Thomas Robinson), serve up a Wally shaped slice of realisation pie and here the film finds it’s warmly beating heart.
Typically, romantic comedies offer a funny introduction showcasing two-dimensional characters, a lovey-dovey yet disaster-stricken, second act and a thoroughly predictable conclusion. Gladly, this is not entirely the case with The Switch thanks to a number of factors playing firmly in its favour. Primarily, the film isn’t really a rom-com but more of a coming-of-age, father-son, romantic comedy for men: a rom-fen if you will, which in itself is unusual, yet strangely enthralling. In addition, the principle characters are well-rounded, believable, three-dimensional beings with Aniston doing a fine job of imbuing Kassie with enough zeal and emotion to make the most of a disappointingly underwritten part.
The real stars of the show here are Bateman and Robinson
There is absolutely no doubt however, that the real stars of the show here are Bateman and Robinson. The mesmeric way in which their relationship blossoms as the film cruises towards its climax is a testament to the two incredible performances at its heart. Bateman excels, like never before, in his role as the selfish man boy who, through no volition of his own, is forced to deal with fatherhood, the unexpected feelings and responsibilities associated with it and an ever pressing necessity to tell Kassie the truth regarding their son’s conception. Robinson as Sebastian, a miniature Wally incarnate, all the idiosyncrasies included, is quite simply spectacular. Gifted the lion’s share of the best lines throughout the film, he wastes none, nailing every single one with pitch perfect comedic timing. And by god, forget global warming, those huge eyes could melt ice caps in seconds. Meanwhile Juliette Lewis and Jeff Goldblum give enjoyably stereotypical support as Kassie and Wally’s respective best friends.
Unfortunately, the downside to all this is that, after such sterling work bucking the trend throughout the majority of its duration, the film then unashamedly ends by conforming to the flimsy genre conventions mentioned earlier. This poor decision not only brings the film to an unnaturally abrupt ending but also sorely affects the moral standing of Aniston’s character who, as a result, is practically stripped of her previously admirable values and self confidence.
A bitter shame and an all too common reminder that Hollywood can’t and won’t cough up the cahoonas on any movie that might encourage audiences to leave the cinema thinking of anything other than joyous children on swings and freshly born kittens – God forbid. This grumble aside, The Switch is a thoroughly enjoyable comedy, which showcases strong performances by all, an incredible chemistry between its two male leads and a heartbreakingly sincere and sentimental breakout performance from a child star in the making. A perfect date movie.