Bateman flips Aniston on this “Switch”
Here’s a switch for you. The reasons for seeing top-billed star Jennifer Aniston’s latest romantic comedy have nothing to do with her and everything to do with up and coming actor Jason Bateman (“Juno,” “Hancock”). He’s the reason the contrived accidental insemination formula works, and the film’s funniest and most tender moments revolve around Bateman’s character Wally Mars. He’s the sour puss buddy of successful TV producer Kassie (Aniston), who can’t summon the nerve to tell her how he really feels about her. (Take your best guess.)
Years go by, Kassie has a child by way of hunky donor Roland (an underused but noteworthy Patrick Wilson), and the best friends separate and lose touch. Not so fast, because the adorable now seven-year-old Sebastian (a darling, scene-stealing Thomas Robinson) looks and acts a lot like Wally.
The film then transforms from a low-key but occasionally witty comedy to focus on the budding relationship between a real father and his newly discovered son-sort of a Yankee poor man’s version of the much better “About a Boy.”
So despite long stretches where nothing significant, unpredictable or truly funny happens-why the recommendation to see “The Switch”?
For starters, Bateman proves he has the making of an American Hugh Grant. Amiable, naturally funny, self-deprecating and charismatic even while acting neurotic. He gets some help here from a hilarious Jeff Goldblum, who isn’t trapped by his “clear-thinking sidekick” role that’s required in this type of film. Juliette Lewis also has some shrill but goofy moments as Kassie’s dingbat girlfriend-yet another stereotype.
As for Aniston, chalk up another middling film on her resume where she plays the exact same character as she has in countless rom-coms-that is to say, herself. “The Bounty Hunter,” “Love Happens,” “The Break-Up,” “Rumor Has It,” “Along Came Polly,” one after another. She offers little on-screen sizzle with her co-stars and she’s really never shown a proclivity for comedic flair.
Perhaps it’s the fallout from her TV fame that never led to meatier roles, her rejection by Brad Pitt, or her poor choices in off-screen relationships, but her fans must primarily feel sorry for her because it’s impossible to truly admire her work.
Truth told, there aren’t many 40-something actresses with her celebrity status. It would be great if Aniston would try something different, (fans might check out “Management” which never made it to theaters) and in the end, “The Switch” would have been a better movie with just about anyone else cast alongside the terrific Jason Bateman.
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic content, sexual material including dialogue, some nudity, drug use and language.