“I hijacked Kassie’s pregnancy!” No, it’s not a line from super-soap Sunset Beach – it’s Jason Bateman in The Switch. Realising that, in a gooey case of mistaken sperm identity, he drunkenly donated his own swimmers to none-the-wiser best bud Jennifer Aniston, he’s now the only one who knows that her seven-year-old kid is actually his.
Knocked Up meets The Hangover, then? Considering The Switch’s premise, you’d be forgiven for thinking so. Surprisingly, though, this film from the directors of Blades of Glory is rather more Kramer vs. Kramer – somewhat poetically, The Switch’s story of a woman who doesn’t need a man turns out to be a film that doesn’t need a woman.
Which actually says more about Allan Loeb’s script than it does about rom-com queen Jennifer Aniston, who here finds a hoot-a-plenty sparring partner in Jason Bateman. It’s just that their no-mance is so obviously geared towards a happily ever after that we turn to Bateman’s relationships with father-figure boss Jeff Goldblum and cutie-pie son Thomas Robinson for something fresh to grab hold of.
The latter, a hypochondriac with eyes like buttons, near steals the movie from under Bateman’s nose. Avoiding child actor pitfalls, Robinson’s growing bond with Bateman will dissolve even the most ice-encrusted of hearts, even as Goldblum – playing himself again, naturally – fumbles and bumbles and gets the biggest laughs of the lot.
Still, The Switch remains merely passable at best, and there’s nothing here that we’ve not seen before, including Juliette Lewis persistently scratching about for a decent part (she was similarly underused earlier this year in Whip It). So Aniston’s latest is neither rom-com, bromance nor dramedy. Indeed, despite some occasionally arresting visual designs, it often feels like an episode of the aforementioned soap merely gifted an A-list cast.
Anticipation: Should be renamed The Sperminator. Sounds daft. 2
Enjoyment: Napkin-sized plot, but the blokes are a joy. 3
In Retrospect: Sparking banter is all but lost in reality-crushing implausibility. It strains to portray a progressive modern woman, but Aniston’s role is the weakest link. 2