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August 20, 2010
Review - " The Switch "  -  (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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The Switch
Directed by: Will Speck, Josh Gordon
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette
Lewis, Thomas Robinson

The Switch is a high concept rom-com that might seem a bit, “I’ve seen
this before,” but its great performances, fantastic heart, and the most
realistic characters in a rom-com, in what feels like forever (except
perhaps 500 Days of Summer), make this a quality effort that is easy
to enjoy.

Now we have all seen the preview for this and there is only one thing
that the trailer is selling, Jason Bateman’s character, Wally, swaps his
sperm for that of his best friend’s donor and seven years later the kid
and friend re-enter his life after a Midwest hiatus.  Jennifer Aniston
plays the best friend, Kassie, and while Wally and hers’ relationship
started on a dating level, Wally quickly pushed them into the friend
zone and they have been best-ies ever since.  I believe, and the film
clearly conveys, that the two have become platonic over the years and
Wally has no ulterior motive to their friendship.  What does hurt Wally
is that Kassie doesn’t deem his sperm good enough to be the donor,
and while I think in the end they would have decided it wouldn’t be a
good idea for him to be said donor, Kassie never once considered
him; and that rubs Wally the wrong way. So when Wally gets drunk
and spills the “Viking” donor’s sample down the drain he replaces the
“Viking” seed with his own out of guilt, embarrassment, and a little bit
of spite towards Kassie.  Not once did I ever think he was trying to
weasel his way into Kassie’s romantic life/new family and he was
clearly so hammered he didn’t even know what he was doing anyways.
I can easily see how watching the previews you could sit there and say, “Oh I know how this is going to go,” and I will admit
the film doesn’t do anything innovative or radical structure wise to the romantic comedy formula.  But what it does do that is
radical for the genre is that it makes everything in the film feels honest, the characters are as real as you will find for the
genre, and the plot isn’t contrived for convenience of story telling.

The film spends its first act building up the relationship and individual personalities of Wally and Kassie and I think the
filmmakers do a great job of making these characters feel real and right for their story.  The middle act is the transition back
to NY for Kassie and the initial confusion of Wally as he sees himself in Kassie’s kid, Sebastian, and his putting together the
pieces of how that is possible; remember he was black out drunk during the switch.  The final act is what seals the deal for
me though as we watch Sebastian and Wally bond.  Bateman and Thomas Robinson, who plays Sebastian, are just
wonderful together and you will be unable to resist their courtship of one another.  The Wally/Sebastian angle is what makes
this film, but I think the other relationships in the film are portrayed organically and follow their paths for all the right and
natural reasons.

I have already laid some praise for Bateman and his little co-star but I can’t herald them enough.  Bateman throws this movie
on his shoulders and carries while continuing to show that he can lead a motion picture.  Aniston might have top billing but
Bateman is the star, creating a unique character for himself but still possessing the actor’s winning comedic timing and
humor.  Robinson successfully, or comes this close, to stealing every scene he is in and he is one to keep an eye on as he is
great here. The film completely won me over in these two’s fantastic scene surrounding lice.  Patrick Wilson plays Roland, the
donor, and while he is a bit peripheral he does a great job of taking advantage of all of his moments while also creating an
honest “other guy” that we can buy into why he never becomes “THE guy.”  Aniston is Aniston. Solid as always, though she
doesn’t stray out of her comfort zone all that much here; but I like her and she does nothing wrong with her performance.  Jeff
Goldblum is also hilarious as Wally’s best friend and I just am baffled that he doesn’t get to be in more movies; especially

In the end, The Switch is a heartfelt
and affecting family dramedy with a
rom-com back bone.  While the films
progression might be familiar it is
readily earned along the way with
some of the most realistic and honest
characters around for the genre.  
Bateman and Robinson are wonderful
here and have great chemistry on the
screen and I defy you not to fall for
these two.  Sure the film could have
been a bit more innovative and thrown
a curveball here or there but the film
isn’t trying to surprise you.  It’s trying
to make you laugh and win your heart
and it definitely succeeded on both of
those levels.