DIR: Josh Gordon, Will Speck • WRI: Allan Loeb • PRO: Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa • DOP: Jess Hall • ED: John Axelrad • DES: Adam Stockhausen • CAST: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Patrick Wilson, Juliette Lewis, Jeff Goldblum
I don’t know who will be more outraged by The Switch, women’s groups or geneticists, but at least, and surprisingly for a Jennifer Aniston rom-com, it won’t be cinema audiences. Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) throws a party, in full on new-age style, to celebrate her decision to have a baby by artificial insemination. At the party her best friend Wally (Jason Bateman), who opposes the plan, drunkenly upends the little cup containing the donor’s semen and replaces it with his own. Yep, he accidentally impregnates his best friend. Years later he meets the resultant child and wonders why he seems to share all his neuroses.
When the cast of Friends started to appear in movies we all believed that Jennifer Aniston would be the one to go on to great things. Now that her failure has been cemented is she passing her curse onto Jason Bateman, who, apart from small roles in films like Juno and Up in the Air, has yet to find a cinematic project worthy of his considerable comedic talent? Well, no actually. The film raises lots of laughs early on, although they do dry up when it starts to indulge in sentiment. Jeff Goldblum, as Wally’s mate Leonard, provides a steady stream of chuckles. I don’t know when exactly he made the change from leading man to character actor but he gives a hilariously eccentric performance in line with his turn in The Life Aquatic. Bateman is very good, even at the sentimental stuff, although he is at times defeated by the cornier lines and a frankly bizarre voice-over narration. What’s it doing there? Apart from spewing out mixed metaphors like a dictionary in a wood chipper it serves no purpose whatsoever.
The plot kind of lurches along. A couple of times in the film Jason and Jennifer will have an argument so the film can skip over a couple of weeks – and a few key plot developments along the way – until they meet again and we can go into the next bit.
Actually the people who should be most outraged by The Switch are those concerned with the impact of movies on our society. They should worry less about violence and worry more about the potential bad influence of romantic comedies. If people ever start following some of the examples set by this genre all hell could break lose. Ever since Fred Astaire started stalking Ginger Rodgers – watch Top Hat and wonder why she doesn’t just call the police – this genre had always seen the most shocking behaviour rewarded. And now we have Jason Bateman, in his own words, ‘hijacking’ Jennifer Aniston’s pregnancy. I mean, at least it’s still pretty difficult to get your hands on a minigun in Ireland, but semen…