If you have tuned into the news lately, you’ve probably heard about the controversy surrounding the new Jennifer Aniston film, The Switch. The film was thrust into the spotlight by Bill O’Reilly, who said the portrayal of single motherhood in the film is destructive to society. His comment spurred a response from Aniston…and so on and so forth…
But today I am here to tell you, everyone- both the left and the right, the traditonalists and progressives- can unite under one common fact:
The Switch is a terrible movie. The story and the characters are so dull and uninspired, it is truly a wonder how this film ever became anything more than a Lifetime Original Movie.
Following in the footsteps of The Back Up Plan, The Switch revolves around the topic of artificial insemination. Wally (Jason Bateman) is a type-A, neurotic business man who represses his feelings about Kassie (Jennifer Aniston). Kassie decides she wants a baby, and tired of waiting for Mr. Right, decides to get pregnant on her own. She chooses the blue-eyed, blond haired Roland (Patrick Wilson) to be the sperm donor. Kassie proceeds to have an “insemination party”… a party where everyone she knows comes together and parties while Roland is in the bathroom doing the deed…yeah…
As a guest at the party, Wally becomes extremely drunk and half-accidentally spills the “seed daddy” cup. He then decides the best solution is to hijack the pregnancy and refill the cup on his own.
Conveniently, Wally has no recollection of these events and Kassie has no suspicions. Kassie is now pregnant and decides to move to Michigan to raise the child. Seven years pass and Kassie moves back to New York where the two friends reunite. Wally finally meets the child, Sebastian (Thomas Robinson). The two have such similar personality traits that it triggers the memory of the sperm switch within Wally. The rest of the movie follows Wally as he bonds with Sebastian and struggles to tell Kassie the truth – that he’s the baby’s daddy, etc.
Taking a step back, I can deduce three primary elements of the film that did not work (of course, not much worked at all, but these are the three that REALLY stick out.)
First and foremost, the plot was completely predictable. It wasn’t just predictable in the sense that you knew everything would turn out perfectly. The movie seethed of what I call “easy predictability”. It’s as if the writers jotted down the first thing that came into their minds without ever thinking about a creative explanation. Everything about this movie was easy, right down to the end.
After Wally tells Kassie the truth about the switch, she slaps him…and shortly thereafter agrees to marry him. It seems to me, the fact that he impregnated her without her permission and then lied about it, would make it a little more difficult to get back in her life…? The Switch is stuffed to the brim with easy explanations. The excess of simplicity makes the plot seem completely unbelievable. It attempts to ride the train of “modern family” entertainment (i.e. The Kids Are All Right, Modern Family, Parenthood, even Bateman’s Arrested Development), but it just feels incredibly thrown together.
The second element of the film that contributed to the overall unsuccessfulness were the characters. Each character in The Switch is unlikeable in their own way. Wally is the most complex character with his repressed feelings and introspective nature. Yet he does not have enough redeeming qualities to outshine his obsessive habits. He is so annoying and manipulative that I was never really on his side, even when I was supposed to be. The one exception happened during a scene where Sebastian and Wally bond over the absence of a father while looking at picture frames. This scene is the only time the audience sees some sort of explanation of a character’s motivation and past.
Kassie is completely one-dimensional. In fact, Kassie really isn’t a character…it’s just Jennifer Aniston…pretending to be a mom. She has no back story and no personality. I wanted to like her. I wanted to support her decision to have a child. The script just never gave Kassie a chance to explain her decisions. For that matter, there was very little interaction between Wally and Kassie. This lack of interaction and poor development of Kassie’s character made the end result of them getting married even more unbelievable.
Even her son, Sebastian, isn’t very likable. Yes. The fact that he is 6-years-old and uses big words is cute, but it’s the kind of know-it-all cute that makes you thankful he is not your kid.
Finally, there is something inherently wrong with the concept of The Switch. The film is supposed to be a romantic-comedy aimed at women over 25-years-old. I don’t know one woman that thinks a story about some guy stealing sperm and replacing it with his own is funny…or romantic. In all, the concept of the movie isn’t approached in a quirky way that could make it funny…so it just comes off as really disturbing.
1.5 out of 4 sticky napkins.