THE SWITCH

THE SWITCH

By Gary Murray

Starring Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Wilson and Juliette Lewis

Written by Allen Loeb

Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck

Running time 104 min

MPAA Rating PG-13

Selig Film Rating Cable

I am starting to think that the romantic comedy has run its genre course. It has had a decades long traverse, but all good things must come to an eventual end. In the last few years, the idea just seems old and tired. Films like Leap Year and Letters to Juliet have won over few new fans and done just fairly at the box office. The latest film to try and rescue the genre is The Switch..

The Switch starts out seven years ago in NYC with two mismatched friends, Kassie Larson (Jennifer Aniston) and Wally Mars (Jason Bateman). Both had put the other in the friends zone, but Wally still pans for Kassie. He a doom-and-gloom, 'bleary-eyed little man-boy' kind of guy with a good heart and she's more of an opposite.

Since Kassie is getting ready to turn the big 4-0, she decides that with Mister Right not coming and her biological clock clanging, she must take matters into her own hands. Kassie decides to use artificial insemination to give her a child. Wally offers her his sperm, an offer she instantly refuses. She wants her baby batter to be from someone who is better looking, smarter and with a more positive view of life. The guy she chooses is a married Woman's Studies professor Roland (Patrick Wilson). He's doing it for the money.

The night of the insemination party, Wally gets really drunk. Half out of his mind, he goes to the bathroom and sees the Roland semen. While messing with the fluid, he spills it down the drain. In a panic, Wally substitutes his seed for the Roland variety. Soon after Kassie gets pregnant, she moves away. Wally has no memory of what he has done.

We now go to today and Kassie is moving back to NYC with her son Sebastian (Thomas Robinson). Wally has never been around the boy and on their first meeting he is struck by how much the two have in common. Kassie has also changes, seeing Wally more as a man than a friend. Sebastian has all the necrosis that Wally shows and even more quirks. It seems that Sebastian likes to collect picture frames but leaves all the original display photos inside. He lives on Web MD, thinking he has every disease listed.

Kassie contacts Roland and finds that he is very recently divorced. It becomes obvious that he's looking for a new family and begins to pursue Kassie. At the same time Wally begins to piece together that night from seven years ago and comes to the realization of what he's done. He also recognizes that he needs both Sebastian and Kassie in his life. The wanting and the eventual dissemination of information to interested parties drives The Switch to its inevitable conclusion

The kid Thomas Robinson just steals your heart in every bit of film he's in. With his wide eyes and shy smile, he's a heart-breaker in the making. He delivers his lines with such puppy dog sadness one just wants to take him in your arms and hug away all the hurt.

The most solid performance comes from Jeff Goldblum as Leonard. This former leading man has taken on the best friend role but steals just about every scene he's in with Jason Bateman. He delivers comic blow after comic blow with subtle grace that one never notices how deft his placement of lines is in the piece.

It is in the leads were one has the most problems. Jennifer Aniston is a former TV star who just cannot find the right vehicle to put her on the A list of acting. Her performance is more of the same, much more like her Rachel from Friends. She has done some solid work but there is no challenge in this role. The same can be said for Jason Bateman. This is his Extract character with a dash of quirks. Finally, Juliette Lewis brings nothing to The Switch.

The entire exercise of The Switch feels more like a Lifetime movie or an overblown episode of a TV show. Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck never build on their comic foundation delivering a product that is much more charming than out-and-out funny. Without Goldblum there would have been a dearth of laughs. The film starts well, means well but never conveys on the promise set forth at the premise.

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