Director: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Patrick
Wilson, Jeff Goldbum, Juliette Lewis, Thomas Robinson, Caroline
Dhavernas, Kelli Barrett, Todd Louiso
RunTime: 1 hr 41 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: NC-16 (Some Nudity and Sexual References)
Official Website: http://www.theswitch-movie.com/
Opening Day: 30 September 2010
Jennifer Aniston stars alongside Jason Bateman in this offbeat comedy as Kassie, a smart, fun-loving single woman who, despite her neurotic best friend Wally's objections, decides it's time to have a baby - even if it means doing it by herself... with a little help from a charming sperm donor. But, unbeknownst to her, Kassie's plans go awry because of a last-minute switch that isn't discovered until seven years later when Wally gets acquainted with Kassie's cute - though slightly neurotic - son.
The Switch may belong to that set of films which once you've read the synopsis or have seen the trailer, they pretty much spells out the entire plotline, or have you figure things out every step of the way to its intended finale and how it will all turn out. One can predict how this will end with one's eyes closed, but it boiled down to the excellent cast with a mix of who's hot at the moment and those rarely seen these days such as Jeff Goldblum and a visibly aged Juliette Lewis that it makes it an enjoyable sit through despite the caricatures they play.
Based on a short story "Baster" by Jeffrey Eugenides, The Switch contains an interesting yet jokey premise how one can screw (pardon the pun) up a best friend's life-changing decision. Decisions that cannot be taken lightly since it involves bringing another life to the world, and as a single parent whose biological clock is ticking (or rather, her cervix mucus being in absolutely great form), Jennifer Aniston's Kassie decides that if she couldn't find a man to start a family with, perhaps she will just buy semen to be artificially inseminated into her, though avoiding the formal process of an anonymous donor because she wants to allow her future kid to know who's the biological contributor of "seed".
To her best friend forever Wally (Jason Bateman), this spells trouble because the neurotic him cannot fathom how such a decision can be taken so casually, and of course to all audience members in the know, we'd come to expect that he'll probably hold a torch to her since there could be no other reason for an objection, other than she's hot, and that he can donate his in more natural, animalistic instinctive terms. But the deed gets done courtesy of Patrick Wilson's all-smiling Roland, and the film fast forwards 6 years later to deal with the confusion and aftermatch of the titular act.
Despite certain cliches in the film stemming from scenes deliberately crafting opportunities for some father-son bonding which provided for some light comedy, the theme of acceptance, be it parental or romantic become the crux of the film through the relationships put on display, between the young kid Sebastian (Thomas Robinson) and Wally, and that between Wally and Kassie. We know from the onset that they'd have potential to make one big happy family, but nothing gets handed on a silver platter and the characters have to work on it, each having their own confidante to bounce ideas off with, and therein lies the cliched way directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck had adopted in moving the narrative forward, especially that with Goldblum's Leonard in which I find it curious why the need to spell things out explicitly when it was already quite clearly suggested on screen, with enough circumstantial evidence to confirm that the accidental deed was performed.
The Switch also made it timely for those unaware to sit up and take note of Jason Bateman's acting ability as the neurotic investment banker who has his fair share of quirks that define his character, but without going overboard, and I'm sure he's fast becoming, if not already is, a fine actor of his generation that should be deserving of larger leading roles. Jennifer Aniston though didn't offer anything new and continues to play the same character in her movies, with her gorgeous blond hair getting a lot more attention whenever she graces the screen. Patrick Wilson adds to the star studded casting with a supporting role that curiously made him blind to the fact that his "son" doesn't quite look or have inherited his traits.
But like all films that feature kids in one of the central roles, its success hinged on the performance of the kid, and Thomas Robinson steals everyone's thunder as he delivers with endearment the mini-me version of Jason Bateman's character in most uncanny terms. I have no doubt that he'll probably have a memorable career along the lines of Dakota Fanning, Abigal Breslin and Freddie Highmore if we get to see more of what he's capable in pulling off. Probably my favourite scene of his will be that opposite Bateman where he explains his quirky hobby that it'll challenge anyone not to be misty-eyed.
It may not be rip-roaring laughter from start to end, but it does serve up enough comedy and drama especially for both Bateman and Robinson to showcase their acting chops.
(Cliched at times, but still serving up enough to delight)
Review by Stefan Shih