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The Switch
Genre Comedy
Year: 2010

The Switch is not what you're expecting. Whenever someone starts sloshing a cup of sperm around, everyone immediately flashes back to There's Something About Mary with Ben Stiller's vanishing sperm act and Cameron Diaz's extra hold "hair gel". Yes, there is a masturbation scene... and no, you don't get to see Jason Bateman yanking the proverbial plank. They pan past an opaque glass window as he grabs a magazine with attractive, blonde morning show host, Diane Sawyer on the cover.

Subtle is the keyword here and while a sperm sample and turkey baster are exhibited for all to see... it doesn't get as down-and-dirty as other Farrelly brothers movies like: There's Something About Mary, The Heartbreak Kid or even Me, Myself & Irene. The Switch may have Ben Stiller written all over it, but it's Jason Bateman's movie and he's Hollywood's awkward nice guy, which makes him perfect for the part of Wally. He co-stars alongside the gorgeous and currently elligible Jennifer Aniston, who is more of a supporting actor in her role as Kassie.

An unmarried 40-something year old woman (Aniston) opts for artificial insemination in order to fall pregnant before it's too late. After finding a suitable donor, hosting a suave pregnancy party and subsequently falling pregnant, her best friend and secret admirer (Bateman) discovers that he may have switched the donor's sperm with his own... It's as if Michael Bluth from Arrested Development is getting a prequel to explain George Michael Bluth and Rachel Green from Friends is getting a sequel as a single parent with child in tow.

The casting is quite superb, drawing the two TV series star's defining roles together in New York. They avoid slipping back into their career-defining characters and actually deliver fine nuanced performances, which squeeze the bittersweet comedy out of the script's reality instead of reaching with over-the-top comedy acting. This makes The Switch interesting as a hybrid of formulaic "romcom" and heartwarming indie dramedy and not your typical cue the laugh track Hollywood comedy.

The commercial sensibility of casting two TV/Film stars in Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston is counterbalanced by the inclusion of the respected and accomplished trio of Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Wilson and Juliette Lewis. The gross out "Farrellyesque" romance comedy premise is offset by sweet, subtle and realistic romance drama involving a boy... in some ways like an American About A Boy. It's actually funny to think directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck, known for Blades of Glory, are behind all this down-to-earth comedy. To make matters even more complicated, Allan Loeb, screenwriter for dramas like Things We Lost in the Fire, 21 and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps takes credits for adapting The Switch from Baster, the short story by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Going into the film armed with this background knowledge helps explain a lot! This may have been primed as a risque laugh-out-loud comedy, but it's actually a sweet romance comedy drama with a smart, good-natured sense of humour. The plot may be a little contrived, predictable even... but that doesn't stop The Switch from being quietly entertaining, complemented by a solid cast and fine performances.

It may seem strange that a child actor would steal the show, but young Thomas Robinson outplays his experienced counterparts in almost every scene he's in. The kid can act and anchors The Switch for heart, making it enjoyable and even touching with some poignant father-son moments. You could even say that Thomas Robinson replaces Jennifer Aniston as Jason Bateman's supporting actor in the second half. The Switch may not be hilarious, but there are many subplots at play with enough eccentric characters to fill the gaps and bounce off Bateman. He's the straight-laced guy and his awkwardness only adds to his overall appeal as a likable character.

If anything, The Switch is a little too pleasant for its own good. The film carries a PG-13 age restriction, yet its sweet enough to get away with the odd PG comment or situation. The movie carries a sense of grace and dignity through its treatment of the material, the wealth of acting experience shines through emphasised by a fresh burst of talent from Thomas Robinson. It may not be what you were expecting, but it sure delivers on entertainment value for those who are willing to sit back and enjoy something good-natured, optimistic and dare I say "nice" for a change. It's not essential that you see it on the big screen, but it's definitely worth checking out on DVD.

The bottom line: Nice.

6.00/10 ( 1 Vote )
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