- I will generally watch any film starring Jason Bateman. This rule comes with certain risks however because although Jason Bateman is a talented and hilarious actor whose work I enjoy, his career has been less than perfect. Bateman’s duds are unfortunately not limited to Teen Wolf Too (1987) and I easily count the 2010 romantic(ish) comedy The Switch as an avoidable Jason Bateman flick.
Bateman stars as the neurotic New Yorker Wally Mars who is in love with his best friend Kassie Larson (Jennifer Aniston). Wally’s introversion has prevented him from ever working up the nerve to tell Kassie how he feels and his time finally runs out when Kassie reveals that she is going to have a baby via insemination with the help of the hunky sperm donor Roland (Patrick Wilson). She also wants to have the baby back home in Minnesota – too far for a relationship. This news is so devastating for Wally that he has only booze and anonymous pills to turn to - at Kassie’s own “Insemination Party” of all places. Here, while pretending to celebrate Kassie’s decision, he unwittingly destroys the donor’s sperm sample. Out of desperation, he refills the sample with his own - of course, he is too smashed to remember ever doing any of this. Seven years later, Kassie returns to New York with her son Sebastian (Thomas Robinson). Wally is excited for the chance to start again with Kassie but his own neurosis complicates things. To make everything worse, Roland comes back into the picture, trying to romance Kassie and kindle a relationship with Sebastian. But amidst all of this, Wally cannot help but notice that the odd Sebastian acts a lot like him and he is forced with dealing with the possibility that Sebastian might actually be his child.
Directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon (Blades of Glory (2007)), The Switch is a pretty bad movie despite boasting an impressive cast. Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis and Patrick Wilson are all talented actors but their best work cannot be found here. Neither one gives a bad performance per se (Bateman in particular shows just how good an actor he can be in one especially emotional scene); the main problem with The Switch is its script, written by Hollywood hack Allen Loeb from Jeffrey Eugenides' original short story. The script is so bad that no actor could have possibly saved the movie by themselves. The script lacks stability in its general narrative, is not very funny (any comedy that does accidentally happen in the film can be traced directly to the quirky ticks of Jeff Goldblum) and does not feature any kind of sympathetic character. It is just terrible – a blue print for how not to write a comedic screen story.
Luckily, any lasting effects from this awful film are short-lived because The Switch is anything but a memorable film. Not too much time has passed since viewing the film and I have already nearly forgotten it in its entirety. As I write this, I am losing every scene, line- any fragment of memory regarding The Switch whatsoever. Thank heavens! If The Switch stuck around in my brain even for a moderate period time, I think I would go nuts.
CBC Rating: 4/10