Directed by Josh Gordon, Will Speck. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis, Thomas Robinson, Scott Elrod. (2010, PG-13, 101 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 20, 2010
Hollywood's biological clock must be ticking something fierce. The Switch is the third artificial-insemination romantic comedy of the summer thus far, and there's a fourth one opening very soon, although the latter is something of an unplanned pregnancy and not nearly as horrifying as J-Lo's recent The Back-up Plan or as Academy-bound as The Kids Are All Right. Based on a short story by Pulitzer Prize-winner Jeffrey Eugenides, The Switch is amiable fluff that takes its time learning how to walk, talk, and generally act like the kid-centric rom-com that it is. Once it's up and running, though, the story's strange mixture of Aniston Inc. and Woody Allen Lite is enough to see it through to its foregone conclusion. Those audience members with the lowest expectations will be pleasantly surprised. Which isn't to say that The Switch is a very good film. It's not, but it has two supporting character actors – Goldblum and Lewis – who are just casually weird enough to stave off cinematic crib death. Aniston and Bateman are Kassie and Wally, best friends forever. She's an independently minded television producer, he's an neurotic investment whiz, and the two of them are, you know, made for each other. Wally's hip to this fact, but Kassie placed him in the “friendship zone" long ago and continues to view their relationship as strictly platonic. That doesn't change even when Kassie, at 40, decides to be artificially inseminated with Roland's (Wilson) donor sperm. Things get (appropriately) convoluted during the insemination "party" thrown by pal Debbie (Lewis), and suffice it to say that Wally ends up, seven years later, the secret father of Kassie's precociously neurotic child, Sebastian (the ridiculously cute, scene-stealing Robinson). Emotion-heavy comedy ensues. Aniston has been playing Aniston for so long now that it seems she's incapable of anything else; she's a genre unto herself. Bateman, however, delivers a surprising amount of nerdy charm as lonely Wally. It's just enough, in fact, to render The Switch a reliable Saturday night date movie that everyone can agree on. The Switch: Potentially more satisfying than spending a romantic evening with a turkey baster.