Friday, September 3, 2010

THE SWITCH (2010)

Written by Allan Loeb
                                                                          

Directed by Josh Gordon & Will Speck


Where & When: The Landmark, West Los Angeles, CA. September 1, 2010  5:05PM



"The Switch" is a breezy and light-hearted romp about a man, a woman and a failure to properly communicate, which is, of course, the basis of all good romantic comedies.

Our film starts seven years ago, when Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) announces to her long time best friend, Wally (Jason Bateman) that she has decided that her biological clock is about to run out of batteries and she is ready to have a baby. Because Kassie doesn't have a stable man in her life (besides Wally), she wants him to help her find some quality sperm. Of course, Wally is surprised by this news and tries to talk her out of it but her mind is made up.

Wally does offer his semen later, however, as all good friends should do but she declines the offer. Although Kassie does worry that it could effect their friendship but mainly it's because Wally is neurotic, cynical and moody, which are qualities she doesn't necessarily wants for her child, so she continues the search.

What Wally neglected to tell her is that he has romantic feelings for her and she could have feelings for him but we'll get back to all of that. Later, Wally receives an invitation to Kassie's insemination party thrown by her friend, Debbie (Juliette Lewis). While at the party, he meets Kassie's donor, Roland (Patrick Wilson) who is a really nice, attractive and married guy who just wants to help out a damsel in distress.

Upset by the whole situation, Wally takes some pills and booze and proceeds to get really wasted. While in the bathroom, Wally discovers Roland's "donation". Wally accidentally damages the specimen and under pressure to solve this problem (and with a little help from Diane Sawyer), he personally replaces the damaged spunk. Of course, the next day, the previous night's activities are a complete blur to Wally.

Soon, Kassie becomes pregnant but decides New York is no place to raise a child and moves back to her home town. Kassie and Wally try to remain friendly by sending the occasional e-mail but eventually they lose contact with each other.

Cut to the present, Kassie is returning to the city because of a great job offer and she can't wait for Wally to meet her son. After Wally is introduced to the seven year old, Sebastian (Thomas Robinson), he's taken aback because of how familiar he seems. It may be because he is looking at a shorter version of himself. With the help of his boss, Leonard (Jeff Goldblum), Wally pieces together what occurred the night of the party. Wally wants to tell Kassie what happened and how he feels about her but he is afraid and to complicate things further, Kassie is now dating the now divorced, Roland.

Although this film shares a similar plot as the J-Lo vehicle, "The Back-Up Plan" that was released earlier this year, "The Switch" (based on the short story, "The Baster" by Jeffrey Eugenides) has a much better script and performances. While this film follows the usual formula, it doesn't always stay on the path and occasionally veers outside of the well worn romantic comedy road with plenty of good humor and charm.

This cast is solid and special mention should be made to Mr. Goldblum and Ms Lewis for their always terrific and quirky supporting turns and most especially to the young Mr. Robinson. It always amazes me when a child is capable of delivering such a believable and comic performance and he is very good in this film.

After doing great supporting roles in many films over the years, Mr. Bateman has been given an opportunity for a lead role. He does do a fine job and he has a few good moments throughout the film but it does also prove the sad fact that he is not really leading man material. The actor seems like a really nice guy but he's just not someone that stands out on the screen with a commanding presence which is usually required of the star of a film.

As for Ms Aniston, we are all aware that she is an appealing personality but that's the problem; she's not doing much acting in these films she is choosing to do but more coasting on her charm. I think audiences have already gotten very bored of seeing her play a slight variation of the same role over again, most especially after coming off some really lousy romantic comedies such as "Love Happens" (2009) and this year's "The Bounty Hunter" and while "The Switch" is not nearly as bad, it certainly is not a big leap forward. I liked Ms Aniston's work in the independent films, "The Good Girl" (2002) and "Friends With Money" (2006) and although she didn't necessarily disappear in those parts, she did attempt to shake up the routine. Perhaps she should take a little sabbatical from romantic comedies and hold out until she finds something to help her stretch as an actor.

I have to say I really did enjoy "The Switch". It was cute, harmless fun and this is certainly one of the better romantic comedies released this year.