Rated PG-13 for mature thematic content, sexual material including dialogue, some nudity, drug use and language, 101 minutes
Sweet but derivative "The Switch"
Take two charming lead actors, mix in a precocious kid and an overly sweet storyline, and you have the likable but bland new rom com called "The Switch." Starring two of cinema's most appealing actors in Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman, the new movie is a pleasant throwaway and what we used to call in high school: a good make-out movie. This modestly entertaining but pleasant piece of mediocrity isn't horrible but generally the forgettable stuff that studios start burning off at the end of the summer.
40-year old unmarried Kassie Larson (Jennifer Aniston) decides she wants to have a baby. Despite the objections of her neurotic, cynical best friend Wally (Jason Bateman), she chooses to do it alone, with the services of handsome sperm donor Roland (Patrick Wilson). Wally has always had feelings for Kassie, but as his friend Leonard (Jeff Goldblum) points out, he missed his chance and she put him in the "friend zone." But when Wally gets so drunk at Kassie's "insemination party" and accidentally spills Roland's semen, he replaces it with his own. Seven years later, Kassie returns to New York along with precocious-but-neurotic son Sebastian (Thomas Robinson). Wally forms a bond with this loveable mini-version of himself, but the bad news is that Roland is now in the picture.
"The Switch" is uninspiring, pleasant popcorn entertainment for the masses, which isn't necessarily a bad thing except this type of romantic comedy has been done in variations for years. Directed with unoriginal flair by "Blades of Glory" team Josh Gordon and Will Speck, it continues Aniston's string of mediocre films, though "The Switch" actually looks good by comparison to her last film, the awful "The Bounty Hunter." Aniston is a lovely actress who needs better material to prove she's more than a pretty face from that famous TV show she was on a few years ago.
The men fare a little better in "The Switch," but not by much, mainly due to a lackluster, derivative script and unsympathetic, one-dimensional characters from screenwriter Allen Loeb ("21"). Bateman can play the neurotic, cynical character in his sleep so this is no big surprise for him, while veteran Goldblum ("The Fly" anyone?) all but steals the show with the best one-liners.
The handsome Wilson, essentially a male version of Aniston, gives the most empty performance of his career as Aniston's sperm donor and later boyfriend; in addition, in a very small part, character actress Juliette Lewis is at her most annoying. The most memorable performance goes to newcomer Robinson, who gives a more layered, humorous performance as a lovable, smart but neurotic kid, a mini-version of Wally.
It's difficult to buy into "The Switch's" implausible story, particularly with the fact these dense characters don't see how much the kid is like Bateman's character. There are a handful of funny moments, especially when Bateman and Robinson share screen time and laughs together, with far more chemistry than Bateman and Aniston. Down the stretch, it becomes too predictable, oversentimental and takes too much time to unravel the major (and truly very thin) plot line.
Still, "The Switch" does have Bateman and Aniston, who are a bland, likable couple in a bland, likable film that won't likely be remembered much after Labor Day.