So I decided to take a break from gory violence and mindless comedies this weekend and made the choice to watch a romantic comedy instead. Boy, what a choice I made. "The Switch," directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck ("Blades of Glory"), seemed middlebrow initially, but the more I thought about it, the more I became disgusted with it.
Here’s the set-up: Wally (Jason Bateman, who should have known better) is Kassie’s (Jennifer Aniston, whose film choices just tells me she doesn’t know better) longtime BFF, but is apparently too self-absorbed to realize his true affection for her. Kassie has made the decision at the start of the movie to get herself artificially inseminated (because that’s what independent women do!).
Wally is naturally against it, but Kassie goes on with her plan anyway. She throws an insemination party (really?) where the donor (Patrick Wilson) will provide the ‘specimen.’ Wally, unable to cope with the scenario, gets drunk, discovers the specimen cup and in a drunken stupor, accidentally dumps the ‘stuff’ down the sink. So what should he do? He replaces it with his own. Anybody see the moral issue here?
Fast forward seven years later, Kassie returns to New York and gets Wally to babysit her son Sebastian. The real highlight is the relationship between Wally and Sebastian (Thomas Robinson, who steals the film effortlessly). As Wally slowly realizes he shares the same neurotic pessimism as the kid, the more he starts to recall that fateful (or unlawful) night and realizes Sebastian’s his son.
The last third of the film devolves back into rom-com clichés, so cue the public confrontation, the separation montage and the imminent happy-ending conclusion.
Here’s my problem with this movie: nothing in this movie justifies Wally’s actions. I understand this is just a movie, but in the real world, Wally would be charged with rape. At best, Kassie would file a restraining order against him. And do women actually hold insemination parties?
Supporting cast members Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis try to inject some class into the movie, but they seem to be collecting paychecks by the end of the flick. Robinson is the lone reason to see the movie — it’s precocious charm unseen in film these days. Unfortunately it’s just not enough to elevate the film beyond its immoral premise.